The Syrian government says security forces killed three terrorists and wounded a fourth in a failed car bomb attack on the U.S. embassy in Damascus early Tuesday.
State media report that one Syrian security guard was killed and at least 11 bystanders were injured, including a Chinese diplomat.
No Americans were hurt. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice thanked Syria for repelling the attack. She said it is too early to say who was responsible for the assault.
Witnesses say the gunmen shouted Islamic slogans as they tried to throw grenades over the embassy compound's walls. They describe black smoke rising into the sky and the sound of heavy gunfire and explosions echoing from the area around the embassy.
A reporter at the scene said police towed away parked cars, apparently concerned about the possibility of further explosions. Syrian television pictures showed a burned-out car being hauled away from the embassy.
A videotaped threat from al-Qaida's second-ranking leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has appeared in parts of the Middle East this week. In his message, Osama bin Laden's deputy said the terrorist network has chosen the Persian Gulf region and Israel as its next targets.
The warning apparently was chosen for broadcast on Monday, the fifth anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States.