The Consul at Damascus (Keeley) to the Secretary of State
[Received June 11.]
Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith, in French and in translation, a copy of a communiqué issued to the local press on April 27, 1926, by the French Military Governor of Damascus, to the effect that certain villages of the Ghouta and quarters of the city of Damascus might henceforth be subjected to coercive measures in retaliation for the nonpayment of fines and the nonexecution of other measures imposed upon them.
Despite the fact that neither the villages and quarters exposed to these measures were specified nor the nature of the coercive measures themselves defined, the Military Governor stated that following the publication of this notice he would assume no responsibility whatsoever for any accidents that might happen as a result of the putting into execution without further notice of the coercive measures. Since it was conceivable that foreigners might suffer from these measures should they take the form of bombardments or other general punitive operations and since it was not possible to warn the foreigners so exposed because of the absence of information as to what villages and quarters of the city were likely to be made the object of these measures, the Consular Corps thought it proper to request the French Authorities to be more explicit and to give foreigners timely warning before the execution of any program which would endanger their lives or property.
There is transmitted herewith, in French and in translation, a copy of the Consular Corps’ note of April 28, 1926, addressed to M. Alype, Envoy Extraordinary of the French High Commissioner, on this subject; a copy of M. Alype’s reply of May 14, 1926, together with a copy of the Military Governor’s letter to him of May 8, 1926, transmitted therewith; and a copy of the Consular Corps’ acknowledgment of May 18, 1926. It is believed that all of these communications will be found self-explanatory and that extended comment thereon is therefore unnecessary.
It may be remarked, however, that General Vallier, the present Military Governor, in the last paragraph of his letter manifests a disposition to cooperate with the Consuls in their task of protecting their nationals, …
The bombardment of the Meidan Quarter of Damascus on May 7, 1926, the circumstances of which were reported in my despatch No. 373 of May 12, 1926,78 was undoubtedly the execution of one of the [Page 148] contemplated coercive measures. It was carried out without any warning whatsoever. …
Fortunately the number of American citizens left in this district is small, and all those known to this office were advised several months ago to leave the district.
I have [etc.]