Rice praises Syrian agents for repelling attack on U.S. Embassy

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice praised Syrian security agents Tuesday for repelling attack on American Embassy in Damascus, but said it was too early to know who may have been behind it.

In the past, the Bush administration has been very critical of the tight control that the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad has over its people, but Rice would not speculate on whether Tuesday's attack may be an indication that the fiercely secular regime's control is slipping.

"I think it's very early to try and speculate why this may have happened," Rice said.

Rice spoke at a news conference with Canadian Foreign Minister Peter McCay.

In Washington, White House press secretary Tony Snow thanked the Syrian officials who assisted Americans after the embassy attack.

"Syrian officials came to aid of the Americans," Snow told reporters. "The U.S. government is grateful for the assistance the Syrians provided in going after the attackers, and once again, that illustrates the importance of Syria being an important ally in the war on terror.

"It does not mean they are an ally. We are hoping they will become an ally and make the choice of fighting against terrorists."

Snow said the administration does not know whom is responsible for the attack, reports AP.

"They're taking a look," he said. "There have been no claims of responsibly and we have not had an opportunity to dig down and find out. We just don't know."

"It was a serious event and the Syrians did come to our assistance."

Armed Islamic militants attempted to storm the embassy using automatic rifles, hand grenades and at least one van rigged with explosives, the Syrian government said. Four people were killed in the attack, including three of the assailants, and no Americans were hurt.

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