The Syrian ambassador to Iraq, Nawaf Fares, who announced his defection to the opposition, is now in Qatar, the Iraqi Foreign Minister told the media during his visit to Paris on Thursday.
"The Syrian ambassador Nawaf Fares, who announced his defection, left Baghdad and is now in Qatar," Zebari said.
Fares has defected from the regime of President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday and called on Syrian soldiers to follow his lead and turn their guns on the Damascus leadership, in a video statement posted on Facebook.
"I announce my defection from my post as ambassador of Syria in Iraq and my withdrawal from the ranks of the Baath party."
"From now on, I am on the side of the Syrian people, which I think is natural, in such difficult circumstances."
Fares also called on all Syrians to abandon Assad and his regime.
"Where is the honor in killing your countrymen? Where is the national allegiance? The nation is all the people, not one person in particular," he said. "The allegiance is to the people, not to a dictator who kills his people," Al-Jazeera news reported.
In response to Nawaf Fares defection, the Syrian Foreign Ministry announced Thursday that 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 permission from the Syrian authorities.
The ministry further noted that the embassy in Baghdad will continue to serve the interests of Syrian nationals in Iraq.
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said that if true, Fares would be the first senior diplomat from the regime to defect.
Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Thursday that Brig. Gen. Manaf Tlass, who fled Assad regime last week, is in contact with Syrian opposition rebels.
Tlass was an officer in the elite Republican Guard charged with protecting the regime. He is the son of former defense minister Mustafa Tlass,, a close friend of Assad's late father and predecessor, Hafez al-Assad, AFP reported.