July 9 - U.S. ambassador to Damascus Robert Ford denies ulterior motives for visit to Syrian city Hama. Jessica Gray reports.
The U.S. ambassador to Syria is surrounded by friendly protesters in the city of Hama. Robert Ford visited Hama on Friday and spoke to dozens of residents as well as hospital staff treating injured protesters. The U.S. denied that Ford was there to incite further protests and that he left before prayers so as "not to become the story himself." Syria accused the U.S. of seeking to bolster anti-government sentiment, adding his trip was not sanctioned. There were large demonstrations against President Bashar al-Assad in the city later in the day. His visit is unusual in that ambassadors normally avoid becoming involved in a country's internal affairs. Jessica Gray, Reuters