French envoy mobbed in Syria

Story highlights

  • An activist says 16 are reported dead Saturday, including 12 killed in Homs
  • The ambassador was meeting with a Greek Orthodox cleric on Saturday morning
  • Afterward, people hurled stones and eggs at him
  • Syrian has been a site of unrest, and its crackdown has stirred international criticism
France's ambassador to Syria was attacked on Saturday morning in Damascus, the French Foreign Ministry reported, on a day marked by continuing violence between authorities and anti-government protesters in the Middle Eastern nation.
Sixteen people were reported killed Saturday around the country, most of them in Homs, said Rami Abdul Rahman, head of the London-based activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, citing conversations with witnesses and anti-government activists in Syria.
In the Christian quarter of Damascus's old city, people threw stones and eggs at French envoy Eric Chevallier after he met with Greek Orthodox Patriarch Ignace IV.
Diplomatic tensions have boiled over Syria's crackdown on peaceful protesters.
France said in July that its embassy had been besieged by demonstrators and faulted Syrian authorities for failing to stop the destruction of vehicles, burning of French flags and other damage.
It summoned Syria's ambassador to France to issue a formal protest on this matter, and to hold Syrian authorities responsible for the security of French diplomats in the Middle Eastern country.
Chevallier and U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford in July visited the city of Hama, where protests erupted. The visits angered the Syrian government.
Protesters have taken to the streets regularly and some activist groups say as many as 3,000 people have died during protests since mid-March.
Rahman said that 12 men were shot dead Saturday in the western city of Homs, which has been one of several hotbeds of unrest in Syria. Another man died after being shot in Hama, while a man in Douma succumbed to gunshot injuries sustained a day earlier, he said.
Syrian authorities, meanwhile, in Harasta delivered the bodies of two men who had been previously been detained to their parents, said Rahman, who claimed the bodies had marks consistent with torture.
And in the coastal city of Banias, government forces purportedly fired random shots in the city that injured civilians, in addition to detaining nine men, said Rahman.
Saturday's incidents came a day after the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, an activist group, reported 13 deaths in the country, including that of a 5-year-old child, amid demonstrations by opposition protesters and offensives led by Syrian security forces.