Paris summons Syrian ambassador

The French foreign ministry on Sunday summoned Syria's ambassador to France over damage done to the French embassy and a consulate in Syria.

Syrian demonstrators caused the damage Saturday after France’s ambassador to Syria visited the northern village of Hama, a stronghold of the anti-regime uprising.

Foreign Minister Alain Juppe’s cabinet chief called the Syrian ambassador Lamia Shakkour to the foreign ministry to receive a “vigorous protest”, ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said in a statement.

Demonstrators gathered at the French embassy in Damascus and the consulate in Aleppo had burned French flags, the statement said.

They had thrown projectiles into the compounds, destroyed vehicles and caused “considerable damage”, it added.

Syrian security services and police had done nothing to intervene “to prevent these unspeakable acts”, Valero said.

The acts were a clear breach of Syria’s obligations under the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations” the statement added.

“We hold the Syrian authorities responsible for the security of our staff and our diplomatic missions,” Valero added.

The demonstrations took place after a visit Thursday by French ambassador Eric Chevallier to Hama, besieged by Syrian forces cracking down on anti-government demonstrations.

The US ambassador Robert Ford also went this weekend to Hama to voice support for the local population on behalf of the United States.

Both diplomats were summoned by the Syrian foreign ministry, which called the visits a “blatant interference in Syrian internal affairs”.

Valero objected to this incident too, which he said was undue interference in the work of the ambassador.

International agreement clearly gave diplomats freedom of movement in the country to which they were assigned, he said.

Paris had also taken the opportunity to remind the Syria ambassador of its ongoing crackdown on pro-democracy activists in Syria, Valero added.

“It is not acceptable that a government unleashes weapons against its population,” he said.

Nor was it acceptable that the international community failed to respond do what it could to protect civilians “in the name of peace and security in the region,” he added.

China and Russia have blocked a UN Security Council resolution on Syria denouncing the Syrian crackdown.

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French Interior Minister asks police to ban pro-Palestinian Paris protest

France's interior minister on Thursday asked police to ban a pro-Palestinian protest in Paris this weekend over the conflict with Israel fearing a repeat of clashes during a similar situation in 2014.

French Interior Minister asks police to ban pro-Palestinian Paris protest
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin asked the Paris police chief to ban the protests on Saturday linked to the recent tensions in the Middle East. Photo: Guillaume HORCAJUELO POOL / AFP

Activists had called the protest in the Barbès district of northern Paris to demonstrate against Israel’s use of force in the Gaza Strip in response to the rocket fire by militant group Hamas at the Jewish state.

“I have asked the Paris police chief to ban the protests on Saturday linked to the recent tensions in the Middle East,” Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin wrote on Twitter.

“Serious disturbances to public order were seen in 2014,” he added, urging police chiefs elsewhere in France to also remain vigilant over demonstrations.

In a circular seen by AFP, he also urged local police chiefs to assure the “protection of places of worship, schools, cultural centres and businesses of the Jewish community.”

Several demonstrations took place in France during July 2014 to denounce an Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip.

On July 19, 2014, several thousand protesters defied a ban on a demonstration at Barbes and the rally rapidly degenerated into violent clashes that lasted for hours.