JERUSALEM, Israel -- Shortly after the State Department recalled Ambassador Robert Ford from Damascus over concerns for his safety, Syria followed suit by summoning its ambassador, Imad Moustapha, for "consultations with Syrian leaders."
Officials from both governments indicated the recalls were not permanent.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Ford was recalled because of "credible threats against his personal safety in Syria."
"At this point we can't say when he will return to Syria," Toner said. "It will depend on our assessment of Syrian regime-led incitement and the security situation on the ground."
Ford has criticized the Syrian government over its crackdown against anti-government protesters, which according to the U.N., has killed some 3,000 people.
In July, Ford and the French ambassador visited the city of Hama where violent clashes have taken place between Assad's security forces and the demonstrators.
"And given the extent of the government's brutality, neither the Syrian protest movement nor the international community will believe that this Syrian leadership desires or is capable of the deep genuine and credible reforms that the Syrian people demand," wrote Ford, the Christian Science Monitor reported.
At the Word Economic Forum in Jordan, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the "Assad regime should not consider that it can get away with mass murder."
"Gadhafi made that mistake and it cost him everything," Cain said.
The Obama administration appointed Ford, a career diplomat and Arabic speaker, as ambassador to Syria earlier this year following a five-year hiatus.
Former President George W. Bush recalled the U.S. ambassador to Syria for its perceived role in the 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.