890d.00/253: Telegram

The Consul at Beirut (Knabenshue) to the Secretary of State

Following from Keeley:

[“] November 11, 10 p.m. Referring to Department’s telegram of November 7, 1 p.m. to Beirut. The revolutionary movement being anti-French rather than antiforeign, Americans in Damascus at present have little to fear from the rebels except in being mistaken for Frenchmen, although the policy of the French in fortifying themselves inside the city instead of defending it from the outside exposes those around them to danger of being between two fires in the event of another rebel attack against the French in Damascus, an eventuality which is still entirely improbable [sic].

Naturalized American citizens of Syrian origin in interior villages are exposed to the same danger as natives, namely: (1) being pillaged or killed by bandits for noncooperation, (2) being killed or rendered homeless by the French in wholesale reprisals against villages for failure to combat bandits, and (3) being victims of any of numerous misfortunes that accompany a state of guerrilla warfare or revolution. The French delegate admitted in a conversation this evening his inability to protect Americans in the disaffected regions or to guarantee them safe conduct to Damascus. With the expectation of reenforcements he hoped to reestablish order in the disaffected regions within the next 15 days. I consider that Americans in the interior will be in the greatest danger during the period of French attempt to restore order. While being sincerely appreciative of the Department’s solicitous provision for my personal safety I prefer to [Page 121] remain in my district regardless of developments unless a serious exigency should arise or unless as a result of improbable future developments the Department might for reasons of policy instruct me to leave.”

It is rumored that a serious attack will be made upon Damascus on 15th or 16th. I have instructed Keeley to come to Beirut immediately for further consultation and bring his family, which at least I will insist must remain here. Also sent to Paris.