Secretary of State John Kerry speaking at the Geneva II conference in January

Secretary of State John Kerry speaking at the Geneva II conference in January State Department

U.S. Relationship with Assad Reaches a New Low

The State Department shuts down the Syrian embassy in Washington, D.C. By Jordain Carney

The United States took another step Tuesday to distance itself from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government.

Daniel Rubinstein, who was appointed special envoy for Syria on Monday, said that the "United States notified the Syrian government today that it must immediately suspend operations of its Embassy in Washington, D.C., and its honorary consulates in Troy, Michigan, and Houston, Texas."

The decision comes as the Syrian civil war enters its fourth year, and Rubinstein said that in light of the "atrocities the Assad regime has committed," the administration has "determined it is unacceptable for individuals appointed by that regime to conduct diplomatic or consular operations in the United States."

The Syrian embassy in Washington said last week that it stop consular services as of Tuesday. 

In light of the State Department's decision, any Syrian diplomat or consular who is not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident has to leave the country. 

The comments echo a YouTube video that Rubinstein posted Monday. Rubinstein said that "Assad will go to any length to maintain power," adding that the civil war has been "a somber occasion and a sober reminder to all of us of the work still needed."

And despite the administration's latest move, Rubinstein said the United States will to carry on its diplomatic relations with Syria "as an expression of our longstanding ties with the Syrian people, an interest that will endure long after Bashar al-Assad leaves power."

Secretary of State John Kerry announced Rubinstein as the special envoy for Syria on Monday.