U.S. Ambassador to Syria to step down this summer

Updated 8:30 p.m. ET

U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford will step down this summer. President Obama appointed Ford in 2010, before the two-year civil war in Syria began.

The State Department hasn't announced his exit or his replacement. Ford was scheduled to be rotated into another position at the end of the year following his completion of a three year term. He is now expected to leave ahead of that date.

"Ambassador Ford is in Istanbul right now and continues the Secretary's urgent work on behalf of the Syrian people every single day," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. "He will continue his work and we have no announcements at this time."

Ford is the highest ranking U.S. official to visit Syria since its two-year civil war began. As Psaki mentioned, he is now in Istanbul, Turkey working with the Syrian opposition to assemble a team that will represent the rebels at the United Nations for a peace conference with representatives from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime in June.

The first U.S. ambassador in five years assigned to Syria, Ford is a fluent Arabic speaker and former Deputy Chief of Mission in Baghdad. He is currently stationed in Washington, D.C. Ford will work in the inspector general's office until retirement.

  • Margaret Brennan

    Principally assigned to the State Department, Margaret Brennan also serves as a CBS News general assignment correspondent based in Washington, D.C.