Outspoken Ambassador To Syria Returns To U.S. U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford has been brought home from Syria because of fears for his safety. His very public criticism of government repression and his expressions of support for protesters — attending the funeral of a slain activist, for example — have brought threats. The United States accuses Syria's state-run media of inciting violence against him.

Outspoken Ambassador To Syria Returns To U.S.

Outspoken Ambassador To Syria Returns To U.S.

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U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford has been brought home from Syria because of fears for his safety. His very public criticism of government repression and his expressions of support for protesters — attending the funeral of a slain activist, for example — have brought threats. The United States accuses Syria's state-run media of inciting violence against him.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Ari Shapiro.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

We're going to hear now about America's ambassador to Syria, a man the U.S. decided would be in danger if he stayed at his post. Ambassador Robert Ford is now back home in Washington, D.C. He angered Syrian authorities by his outspoken support of opposition forces, forces raging against the government now.

The State Department insists it will send him back to make sure the U.S. has eyes and ears on the ground to witness the ongoing Syrian crackdown on protesters. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports on how Ford's role in Syria has differed from most U.S. ambassadors around the world.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Ambassador Ford and his team have been pelted by eggs and had their cars attacked by what the State Department describes as rent-a-mobs. U.S. officials say he left Damascus because he was the victim of a smear campaign. Syrian government-run media accuse him of instigating the opposition. Though Ford has been keeping a low profile this week, he's usually outspoken, as he was in this recent BBC interview.

(SOUNDBITE OF BBC BROADCAST)

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