WASHINGTON, March 18 (UPI) -- Syria was told Tuesday to shut down its Washington embassy and honorary consulates in Troy, Mich., and Houston, a U.S. diplomat said.
Daniel Rubinstein, the U.S. State Department special envoy for Syria, said the move followed the Syrian government's announcement that it is no longer providing consular services in the United States.
"Following the announcement that the Syrian Embassy has suspended its provision of consular services, and in consideration of the atrocities the [President Bashar] Assad regime has committed against the Syrian people, we have determined it is unacceptable for individuals appointed by that regime to conduct diplomatic or consular operations in the United States," Rubinstein said.
The United States is not severing diplomatic ties with Syria, Rubinstein said, saying the two countries have a relationship that "will endure long after Bashar Assad leaves power." But he said Syrian diplomats who are not U.S. citizens or legal residents must leave the country.