In a statement on April 25, the State Department ordered family members
of U.S. government employees as well as non-essential personnel to leave
Syria, Middle East Newsline reported. The department said embassy operations would continue to the extent
possible "under the constraints of an evolving security situation."
"Since March 2011, demonstrations throughout Syria have been violently
suppressed by Syrian security forces, resulting in hundreds of deaths," the
department said. "Demonstrations can take place anytime and anywhere. Recent
demonstrations have occurred on university campuses, main streets, public
squares, mosques, and other places of public gathering."
The State Department said several cities, including Damascus, have been
placed under what was termed heightened security. The statement said
travelers on Syrian roads have encountered numerous checkpoints and
roadblocks, which have impeded travel.
On April 22, security forces prevented many from entering or leaving
Damascus. Officials said Syrian government constraints on observers,
including the short-term detention of accredited diplomats, have made it
difficult for embassy personnel to assess the revolt.
"Syrian efforts to attribute the current civil unrest to external
influences may lead to an increase in anti-foreigner sentiment," the
department said. "Detained U.S. citizens may find themselves subject to
allegations of incitement or espionage."