Arrests, skirmish between protesters, Syrian embassy employees in Jordan

In a frame from a YouTube video, protesters gather Sunday outside the Syrian Embassy in Amman, Jordan.

Story highlights

  • About a dozen protesters in disguise entered embassy, the vice ambassador says
  • Five people were attacked with sticks, he says
  • Nine of the protesters were arrested, he says
  • One person briefly lost consciousness, the vice ambassador says
Tensions flared Sunday at Syria's embassy in Jordan -- an incident an embassy official described as an attack on Syrian employees, while an activist deemed it a peaceful demonstration before the protesters themselves were attacked.
The accounts of what transpired varied greatly, depending on the source. Syria's vice ambassador to Jordan, Mohammad Abu Serreah, claimed about a dozen protesters were involved. Jordanian-based opposition activist Omar Abdallah, meanwhile, said there were six men.
The group was dressed inconspicuously -- some in suits and others casually -- when they arrived as the embassy opened at 9 a.m., said Serreah.
After entering the building, they took off their jackets to show that they were wearing T-shirts in support of the Syrian opposition, he said.
Serreah said that the group was asked to leave the embassy, but they refused. They then began attacking some employees -- including himself, another diplomat and three other staff members -- with sticks, according to the embassy official.
One of those briefly lost consciousness, while four suffered minor injuries, said Serreah.
The embassy employees locked the doors and called police, Serreah said. Some of the men in the group broke the door and ran to join other protesters who had gathered outside the embassy, he said.
The opposition activist, Abdallah, said the men had come to the embassy in Amman to renew their passports. After revealing T-shirts with the Syrian revolution flag, they were "attacked" by Syrian embassy security personal, Abdallah said.
Three of the demonstrators were injured and taken to a local hospital, according to Abdallah. Three others were arrested by Jordanian police, he claimed.
By contrast, Serreah -- the embassy's vice ambassador -- claimed that Jordanian police arrested eight people outside the embassy and a a guard arrested a ninth inside the building. He claimed that the other protesters involved in the incident escaped.
"I suspect the attackers are a part of the weekly protests that are happening outside the embassy," he said. "This attack is unacceptable and it violates diplomatic rules, so I hope it never happens again."