DAMASCUS, Syria Syria says Egypt's decision to cut diplomatic ties with his country is "irresponsible," accusing its president of joining a U.S.-Israeli conspiracy to divide the Middle East.
The official government statement quoted in state media on Sunday comes a day after President Mohammed Morsi told supporters in Cairo that his country is severing ties with Damascus and closing its embassy in the Syrian capital. Morsi, an Islamist, made the decision amid growing calls from hardline Sunni clerics in Egypt and the region to launch a "holy war" against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Morsi also called for a no-fly zone over Syria. The Syrian statement said Morsi's call is a violation of its sovereignty "and serves the goals of Israel and the United States" in the region.
The move highlights the sectarian divisions between Shia and Sunni Muslims that have been exacerbated by the ongoing civil war in Syria. Syrian President Bashar Assad's ruling minority Alawite sect, a Shia offshoot, largely can only count on fellow Shiites in the region for support at this point in the war. Internationally, only longtime Syrian ally Russia has been vocal in its support for Assad's regime.
Shiite-dominated Iran is reportedly sending 4,000 troops to support Assad, the British Independent newspaper reported Sunday.
The state-run Fars News Agency in Iran claimed that the world had misunderstood Morsi's statement against Syria, and that instead Morsi "was expected to shut down the Israeli mission as the enemy of the Muslim world, instead."
CBS News' Alex Ortiz reports from Egypt that the Syrian flag still flies over the Embassy in Cairo, for now. Around 50 Syrian citizens were gathered outside the building Sunday morning. Embassy staff or security from inside are calling out names of the Syrians who have come to retrieve their passports.
Calls to the Syrian embassy have gone unanswered.