Homes of Americans in Syria reported under surveillance
WASHINGTON — The State Department has warned Americans in Syria to be on guard.
The U.S. embassy in Damascus reported break-ins of homes of unidentified
expatriates in Damascus. A statement by the embassy said Americans as well as other
Westerners have come under surveillance from criminals, Middle East Newsline reported.
"This message is intended for the American community in Syria," the
embassy said in a warden message on Dec. 5.
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The embassy, which has also warned of the prospect of Al Qaida attacks
in Syria, urged Americans not to allow unannounced or unidentified people
into the home. The message said contractors should be admitted only if
properly identified and expected.
The warden message said the crime rate in Damascus remains low compared
to other cities. But the embassy raised the prospect that Syrians were
monitoring the movements of Americans from criminal and other attacks.
"It's important to remember that criminals almost always engage in a
period of surveillance before choosing a target," the embassy said. "If
criminals see that your
residential security infrastructure is solid and well-maintained, and that
your family consistently engages in good security practices, they may move
on to a 'softer' target."
Several thousand Americans, many of them with relatives in the country,
were said to reside in Syria. The Americans also include embassy staffers
and representatives of companies that operate in the Arab League state.
"Unfortunately, even the best habits and the most formidable residential
security infrastructure cannot provide a 100 percent deterrent against a
determined burglar," the warden message said. "If you believe someone has
gained unauthorized access to your property, all family members should
remain in a locked room and call local authorities immediately. If you come
home to encounter strangers on your property, do not attempt to stop them.
Leave the premises immediately and call for help."