US suspends diplomatic relations with Syria

Associated Press
A man carries a dead body in Aleppo's Karam al-Beik neighborhood
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ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF INJURY OR DEATH A man carries a dead body after what activists said was a barrel bomb dropped by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo's Karam al-Beik neighborhood April 25, 2014. REUTERS/Hosam Katan (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT MILITARY) TEMPLATE OUT

WASHINGTON (AP) — A senior State Department official says the Syrian government has been told it must immediately suspend its diplomatic and consular missions in the United States.

The order Tuesday essentially shutters the Syrian embassy in Washington and its honorary consulates in Troy, Mich., and Houston, Texas, and forces all personnel who are not legal U.S. residents to leave the country.

It comes three years since the start of the bloody civil war in Syria that has killed more than 140,000 people.

U.S. special envoy to Syria Daniel Rubenstein said the order responds to a decision by the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad to suspend its own consular services.

However, Rubenstein said the U.S. wants to continue diplomatic relations with Syria and maintain a relationship if Assad steps down from power.

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