U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP)
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Robert Ford, the US ambassador to Syria who has been Washington's main pointman in efforts to end the war working with opposition leaders battling President Bashar al-Assad, stepped down Friday."Robert Ford is retiring from the foreign service today after nearly 30 years of distinguished service," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters. She admitted that the departure of Ford, who over the past three years has built up extensive contacts with the opposition leaders and was instrumental in helping to bring them to the Geneva peace talks, would be a loss. A fluent Arabic speaker, Ford became Washington's first ambassador to Damascus in five years when he was named in late 2010 .Ford has also spoken passionately and angrily about the mounting atrocities in the war, which will enter its fourth year next month and in which more than 136,000 people have been killed and millions displaced.
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