SYRIA

Did Syrian regime supporters fake a hit-and-run to discredit US ambassador?

 The US ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, had a bad day at work Thursday. First, he was pelted by tomatoes and stones by pro-regime demonstrators on his way to visit an opposition leader in Damascus. Then, videos started circulating online showing a young man claiming to have been run over by Ford’s car.

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Screen shot from the video below, showing young man who accused the US ambassador to Syria of running him over.

 

The US ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, had a bad day at work Thursday. First, he was pelted by tomatoes and stones by pro-regime demonstrators on his way to visit an opposition leader in Damascus. Then, videos started circulating online showing a young man claiming to have been run over by Ford’s car.

 

A video posted to YouTube shows a crowd chanting pro-regime slogans, while the man filming explains he’s going to interview a boy who was allegedly run over by the US ambassador’s car. The video then cuts to the young man with his leg stretched out in front of him. He’s holding a photograph of president Bashar al-Assad. He says that although there was a crowd of people in the street, the car hit him, failed to stop, and then took off. The camera pans onto his leg, which has no visible signs of injury. At the end of a video, another man says that the US convoy pointed guns at the demonstrators.

 

 

The incident was broadcast by Dunya TV, a private television channel owned by the president’s cousin. Their segment also shows a slow-motion video of pro-Assad demonstrators throwing eggs and tomatoes at a car, which the US State Department confirmed was part of the ambassador’s convoy. The video shows policemen were present, but did very little to stop the attackers.

 

 

A video shot from another angle shows the car’s rear windows being smashed by demonstrators. A Syrian policeman slowly jogs behind them but does nothing.

 

 

According to the US State Department, the ambassador’s car did not hit the young man.

 

“We have heard directly from our ambassador. The vehicle did not hit any child or anyone,” said Aaron Snipe, spokesman for the department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. “There were at least two Syrian police vehicles escorting the US embassy convoy. At no time did the Syrian police stop the convoy to say something was wrong.”

 

Anti-regime activists in Damascus have decried the videos, claiming they are government propaganda. They point out that when the French ambassador Eric Chevalier visited a Greek orthodox patriarch in Damascus earlier this week, he was also pelted with stones and then accused of violence against pro-regime demonstrators.

 

The segment below, aired by Dunya TV but captioned by anti-regime activists, includes interviews with two men who accuse Chevalier’s convoy of throwing bombs at demonstrators. They seemed to disagree on what type of explosive device, however – one claimed it was a flash grenade, while another corrected him to say it was a tear gas bomb.

 

 

On Friday, anti-regime protesters made references to these incidents, suggesting that the United States and France should be able to better protect their own ambassadors. One banner read: “It seems we are asking for protection from the ones who need to protect their ambassadors first.”