DAMASCUS, Syria - Islamic militants attempted to storm the US Embassy in
Damascus on Tuesday using automatic rifles, hand grenades and at least one van
rigged with explosives, the government said. Four people were killed in the
brazen attack, including three of the assailants.
(Syria: Terror attack failed its
A Chinese diplomat was also hit in the face by shrapnel and slightly
injured while standing on top of a garage at the Chinese Embassy, China's
government news agency said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a statement on the
ministry's Website Tuesday that the diplomat, being treated in a local
hospital, was in stable condition.
A burnt out car is seen near the US embassy in
Damascus, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2006, in this image made from television.
No Americans were hurt, and the attackers apparently did not breach the high
walls surrounding the embassy's white compound in the city's diplomatic
But one of Syria's anti-terrorism forces was killed and at least 11 others
were injured, the country's official news agency reported. The wounded including
a police officer, two Iraqis and seven people employed at nearby technical
A witness said one Syrian guard outside the embassy also was killed, but the
government did not immediately confirm that. At the embassy in Damascus, as at
most American embassies worldwide, a local guard force patrols outside the
compound's walls while US Marine guards are mostly responsible for guarding
classified documents and fighting off attackers inside the compound.
Witnesses also said the gunmen tried to throw hand grenades into the embassy
compound, shouting "Allah Akbar!" or "God is great!" It was not clear if any of
the grenades made it over the walls, which are about 8 feet high.
The attack came at a time of high tension between the United States and Syria
over the recent Israeli-Hezbollah war in neighboring Lebanon. In Damascus the
sentiment has become increasingly anti-American sentiment.
Syria has seen previous attacks by Islamic militants. In June, Syrian
anti-terrorism police fought Islamic militants near the Defense Ministry in a
gunbattle that killed five people and wounded four.
After Tuesday's attack, pools of blood lay splattered on the sidewalk outside
the embassy, along with a burned car apparently used by the attackers. A sports
utility vehicle with U.S. diplomatic tags had a bullet hole through its front
window, and the glass windows of nearby guard houses also were shattered.
There were conflicting reports of what happened.
Syrian TV said one car was rigged with explosives but never was detonated by
the attackers. But one witness said a second car did explode, and TV footage
from the scene showed a burned car.
The Syrian Interior Ministry, which is in charge of police, said a fourth
attacker now in detention was wounded in the incident, which it called a
"terrorist attack." The report, carried on state-run television, said
anti-terror units brought "the situation under control" and an investigation was
In Washington, a State Department spokesman confirmed the attack by "unknown
assailants" but had few details.