Damascus, July 12 (Xinhua-ANI): Syrian Foreign Ministry said Thursday it has relieved the Syrian ambassador to Iraq from his duties after reports claiming that he had defected and headed to Turkey.
In a statement emailed to Xinhua, the ministry said that Nawaf al-Fares has made comments to the media that run counter to his duties in defending his country.
In a video aired earlier by Arab media, including Qatar-based al-Jazeera satellite channel, Fares announced his resignation from the post of Syrian ambassador to Iraq, as well as his defection from Syria's ruling Baath party, in protest of "the terrible massacre by the regime."
Legal actions should be levelled against the ambassador after his media remarks and leaving Baghdad without prior permission by the Syrian authorities, the Syrian foreign ministry said.
The ambassador's defection is the first high profile defection by senior diplomats after 16 months of bloody unrest in Syria. (Xinhua-ANI)