The Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Thursday that the defected ambassador of Syria to Iraq was now in Qatar. According to the Iraqi national television, Zebari had told the media during his visit to Paris that "the Syrian ambassador Nawaf al-Fares, who announced his defection, left Baghdad and is now in Qatar. "
Earlier in the day, Mr. Fares has announced his resignation as a Syrian ambassador and as a member of the ruling Baath Party in Syria, condemning "the terrible massacre perpetrated by the regime."
"From now on, I am on the side of the Syrian people, which I think is natural, in such difficult circumstances," stated Mr. Fares in a video broadcast by Qatar-based al-Jazeera TV.
For its part, the Syrian government announced Thursday that Mr. Fares was removed from office following reports about his defection. The Syrian foreign ministry said Fares had made media comments that were contrary to his duties, which is to defend his country.
The Syrian statement also indicated that the ambassador should face justice in response to his media remarks and his decision to leave Baghdad without a permission from the Syrian authorities. This is the first defection of a high-level Syrian diplomat after 16 months of bloody riots.