The department in a statement on March 31, replaced a travel alert
issued only a week earlier, Middle East Newsline reported. Officials said Americans could be harmed in
anti-regime demonstrations in a range of Syrian cities, including Damascus,
Dera, Hama and Homs.
"Demonstrations in other major population centers, including Damascus,
Aleppo, Homs and Hama, have degenerated on several occasions into violent
clashes between security forces and protesters, resulting in deaths,
injuries, and property damage," the department's latest travel alert said.
"We remind U.S. citizens that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful
can turn confrontational and escalate into violence."
Another threat was that the Assad regime would arrest Americans and
charge them with espionage. The State Department pointed to statements by
the Syrian state media and senior officials that foreigners were behind the
"Syrian efforts to attribute the current civil unrest to external
influences may lead to an increase in anti-foreigner sentiment," the State
Department said. "Detained U.S. citizens may find themselves subject to
allegations of incitement or espionage."