Egypt Recalls Its Ambassador to Syria Amid Persisting Violence

Egyptian ambassador called back to Cairo, following reports of U.S. drones over Syria and protests in Damascus on Saturday.

Egypt recalled its ambassador to Damascus, state television said on Sunday, in what appeared to be the latest step in a series of Arab diplomatic moves to intensify pressure on President Bashar Assad, who is trying to crush a popular uprising in Syria.

Egypt's decision follows moves by Tunisia, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab nations to reduce ties with Damascus.

Syria funeral - Reuters - 18.2.2012

State news agency MENA said the decision was made after a visit from Egypt's ambassador Shawky Ismail to Cairo. The foreign ministry decided to keep him in the Egyptian capital "until further notice."

Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm reported that thousands of Egyptians have been staging a sit-in outside the Syrian embassy in Cairo demanding the dismissal of the Syrian ambassador to Egypt.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of protesters marched in Damascus, in one of the largest expressions of the uprising in the Syrian capital in the 11-month uprising.

Also Saturday, U.S. defense officials told NBC television that the United States is flying unmanned reconnaissance planes over Syria. According to the report, the drones are being used to gather evidence of the violent crackdown by Syrian security forces against pro-democracy protesters, which unnamed officials said could be used to "make a case for a widespread international response."

Pentagon officials denied that the U.S. seeks to build a case for military intervention in the country.

Syria did not respond to the report.