NEW: A witness says there were roughly 100 protesters
The protesters smashed windows and tore down the Syrian flag
Syria complains Egyptian officials offered no protection
Syria demands compensation for the damage caused
More than 50 protesters opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime stormed the Syrian Embassy building in Cairo on Friday, smashing windows and tearing down the Syrian flag before dispersing, embassy officials and a witness said.
Bystander Dara Hisham Abdul Hadi said she was parking her car near the embassy when she witnessed the event. She said she counted roughly 100 protesters waving both Egyptian and Syrian flags.
“They were marching towards the Syrian Embassy shouting, ‘Down with Bashar al-Assad,’” she said.
Only 10 or so protesters actually broke into the embassy, she said. It seemed spur-of-the-moment, she said, and there was no security to stop them.
The entire incident lasted about 20 minutes, Hadi said.
“When they brought out (pictures) of al-Assad, they were ripping them apart shouting, ‘God is great!’” she said.
Hadi said she heard two shots as the protesters left toward nearby Tahrir Square.
A Syrian official, who cannot be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media, also described two shots and said they came from Egyptian security forces.
Youssef Ahmed, Syria’s ambassador to Egypt, said embassy officials warned the Egyptian Foreign Affairs Office of a potential threat but the Egyptian government “failed to protect it.”
“Today we are paying for their carelessness,” Ahmed said. “We will inform the Egyptian government and demand that they take full responsibility. We demand compensation.”
General Marwan Mustapha, spokesman of the Egyptian Ministry of Interior, said they responded with more forces once the embassy asked for it.
“It is not a breach on a big scale and the accusations that we did not provide the proper security is unacceptable,” he said.
Journalists Ian Lee and Mohammed Fadel Fahmy contributed to this report.