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Syrian Uprising: Egypt Recalls Ambassador As Opposition Stage 'Day Of Defiance'

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Members of the 'Free Syrian Army' opposition group
Members of the 'Free Syrian Army' opposition group

Egypt has recalled its envoy from Syria as the government continues a campaign of violence against civilians who oppose President Bashar al-Assad's rule.

Cairo gave no immediate reason for the decision, but it comes two days after the country called again for an end to the violence.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Amr said the ambassador had been recalled "until further notice".

According to the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm, "thousands" of people in Cairo had demanded the removal of the ambassador after a series of sit-ins.

Many other states have recalled ambassadors and envoys from the country in protest at the continuing assaults on protesters and civilians.

They have included Arab states Tunisia, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as well as European nations and the United States, which withdrew its embassy staff on 6 February.

Meanwhile open protests have continued in Syria, including in the capital Damascus, even after two weeks of sustained assaults on cities including Homs, where activists say hundreds have died from mortar fire.

Up to 15,000 people were reported to have taken to the streets on Saturday for the funerals of four people killed when government forces fired shots into a crowd of protesters in Mazzeh, Damascus.

Activists said that a "day of defiance" was planned for Sunday, and there were reports of police cars and military Jeeps on the streets in anticipation of the move.

Meanwhile British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a BBC interview that he feared the country could fall into civil war.

"I'm very worried," U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague told the BBC's Andrew Marr show today. "I'm worried that Syria is going to slide into a civil war."

On Saturday the foreign minister of China met President Assad and called on both sides to end the violence.

More than 7,000 people have been killed in Syria after the start of anti-government protests in March 2011, activists have said.

President Assad's regime claims at least 2,000 members of the security forces have been killed.