Armed Islamic militants attempted to storm the US Embassy in a bold attack today using automatic rifles, hand grenades and at least one van rigged with explosives, the Syrian government said.
Syrian security forces killed three of the attackers. No Americans were hurt.
The attackers apparently did not breach the high walls surrounding the white embassy compound, in a diplomatic neighbourhood of Damascus, China's news agency said.
A witness said one Syrian guard outside the embassy also was killed, but the government did not immediately confirm that. At the embassy in Damascus, as at most American embassies worldwide, a local guard force patrols outside the compound's walls while U.S. marine guards are mostly responsible for guarding classified documents and fighting off attackers inside the compound, the AP reports.
Peter Ford, Britain's ambassador to Syria, told CNN that the incident did not seem similar to an al-Qaida attack, but appeared to be "an operation by a small group".
Security forces have clashed with Islamist militants several times since last year, usually in raids carried out to arrest them, the Guardian reports.
Damascus is a tightly controlled capital with a heavy police presence. In April, 2004, a United Nations office was bombed under circumstances that were never explained. This year, demonstrators protested publication of cartoons that depicted Mohammed, the prophet of Islam, by a Danish newspaper, Bloomberg reports.
Prepared by Alexander Timoshik
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