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Outspoken Ambassador To Syria Returns To U.S.


This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Ari Shapiro.


And I'm Renee Montagne.

We're going to hear now about America's ambassador to Syria, a man the U.S. decided would be in danger if he stayed at his post. Ambassador Robert Ford is now back home in Washington, D.C. He angered Syrian authorities by his outspoken support of opposition forces, forces raging against the government now.

The State Department insists it will send him back to make sure the U.S. has eyes and ears on the ground to witness the ongoing Syrian crackdown on protesters. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports on how Ford's role in Syria has differed from most U.S. ambassadors around the world.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Ambassador Ford and his team have been pelted by eggs and had their cars attacked by what the State Department describes as rent-a-mobs. U.S. officials say he left Damascus because he was the victim of a smear campaign. Syrian government-run media accuse him of instigating the opposition. Though Ford has been keeping a low profile this week, he's usually outspoken, as he was in this recent BBC interview.

(SOUNDBITE OF BBC BROADCAST) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Michele Kelemen has been with NPR for two decades, starting as NPR's Moscow bureau chief and now covering the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
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