WASHINGTON – Three Americans have been arrested in Damascus in recent days, and two are still being held, the US State Department said Tuesday, amid two weeks of unprecedented dissent in Syria.


"We can confirm the recent arrest of three American citizens in Damascus and one of whom has subsequently been released," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

Despite a request from US embassy staff in the Syrian capital no consular official had been given access to the detained Americans, he added, refusing to give any further details.

"Our embassy consular officials have been in contact with Syrian authorities and continue to request consular access," he added.

State media on Sunday said an American citizen had been detained, accusing the person of stirring up anti-government protests.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is to address the nation Wednesday in his first speech since the unrest against his rule erupted and a day after his cabinet resigned, a senior official said.

The president is expected to elaborate on a string of reforms announced last week, which came in response to two weeks of protests demanding reform and more freedoms in the country ruled by the Baath party since 1963.