U.S. officials have told the Syrian embassy in Washington to suspend operations. They say any Syrian diplomats who are not U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents must leave the country. The order also affects Syria\’s two honorary consulates in the U.S.
U.S. special envoy for Syria Daniel Rubinstein announced the steps Tuesday. He said it was because the Syrian embassy had stopped providing consular services and in light of what he said were "the atrocities committed by the Assad regime against the Syrian people."
But Rubinstein said the U.S. wants to maintain diplomatic relations with the state of Syria as an expression of longstanding ties with the Syrian people, something he said will endure "long after Bashar al-Assad leaves power."
Meanwhile, United Nations investigators say they have added to their list of suspected war criminals from both sides in the Syrian civil war after a new round of atrocities in recent weeks.
Lead investigator Paulo Pinheiro said the U.N. inquiry has identified military units and security agencies as well as insurgent groups suspected of committing abuses.
He said a newly drafted \’perpetrators list\’ includes the names of intelligence branches and detention facilities where detainees are tortured, military commanders who target civilians, officials overseeing airports from where \’barrel bomb\’ attacks originate, and leaders of armed groups who attack civilians.
It is the most specific information revealed thus far about the identities of suspected war criminals on the list.
Also Tuesday, the Israeli military said an explosion wounded several of its soldiers near the cease-fire line with Syria in the Golan Heights. Israeli television stations said a roadside blast struck a military jeep during a patrol. The stations said Israel fired artillery into Syrian-controlled territory in response.
Two weeks ago, Israeli troops shot two fighters from Lebanon\’s Hezbollah near the fence dividing Israeli and Syrian-held areas of the Golan. The Israeli army said they had been trying to plant a bomb near the barrier.
Israel captured the Golan from Syria in the 1967 war and annexed it in a move not recognized internationally. The strategic plateau has seen occasional spillover violence from the Syrian civil war.
Source: VOA and agencies