Daniel Rubinstein, President Obama's newly appointed special envoy for Syria, announced the decision in a statement Tuesday afternoon. It comes three years after the beginning of the bloody civil war that has killed more than 130,000 people.
“We have determined it is unacceptable for individuals appointed by that regime to conduct diplomatic or consular operations in the United States,” he said.
The United States notified the Syrian government Tuesday that it must immediately suspend operations of its embassy in Washington, DC., and as its honorary consulates in Troy, Mich., and Houston, Texas.
“Syrian diplomats at the embassy and Syrian honorary consulates are no longer permitted to perform diplomatic or consular functions and those who are not U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents must depart the United States,” Rubinstein said.
Rubinstein said the U.S. made the decision in response to an order by the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad to freeze its own consular services.
He said the U.S. would continue to maintain diplomatic ties to the state of Syria in support of the Syrian people and will continue to assist those “seeking change in Syria, to help end the slaughter, and to resolve the crisis through negotiations – for the benefit of the Syrian people.”
This story was published at 12:11 p.m. and has been updated.