Egypt withdraws envoy to Syria

AP News
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Posted: Feb 19, 2012 6:42 AM
Egypt withdraws envoy to Syria

Egypt said Sunday it was withdrawing its ambassador to Syria, the latest Arab country to scale back its relations with the embattled regime in Damascus.

The 11-month-old Syrian uprising began with mostly peaceful protests in a number of the country's impoverished provinces. As security forces violently suppressed them, killing thousands, the protest grew and escalated into an increasingly armed insurrection.

Syria has faced mounting international condemnation over its crackdown on protesters, including harsh sanctions and political isolation.

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

Egypt's move comes as Homs, a central Syrian city which has seen some of the most intense fighting in the uprising, comes under renewed shelling from government troops, according to activists.

The Egyptian state news agency MENA said that Foreign Minister Mohammed Amr decided Sunday during a meeting with Ambassador Shukri Ismael to keep the envoy in Cairo until further notice.

That report did not give a reason, though a report posted minutes before said such a decision could support the Syrian people.

"Withdrawing the ambassador could happen at any time, and if we find and discover that this benefits the Syrian people, we will do it quickly," it quoted the minister as saying.