The United States said on Wednesday it had further reduced the number of staff at its embassy in Damascus because of security concerns in Syria, where Syrian authorities are seeking to crush anti-government protests, - Reuters reported.
"The Department has decided to further reduce the number of employees present in Damascus, and has ordered a number of employees to depart Syria as soon as possible," the State Department said in a travel notice.
The United States in October ordered family members of embassy staff to depart and restricted staffing. The new travel notice said the further staff reductions would mean that the consular section would now operate by appointment only.
"Our ability to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency is extremely limited and may be further constrained by the fluid security situation," the notice said.
The United States has repeatedly warned U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad's government has mounted a violent crackdown to crush months of popular protests.
The U.S. ambassador in Damascus, Robert Ford, returned to Syria early in December after having been recalled to Washington in October because of threats to his safety.
The Obama administration has repeatedly called for Assad to leave office because of Syria's handling of the protests, which the United Nations estimates has killed more than 5,000 civilians since unrest erupted in March.