Syria has declared Morocco's ambassador persona non grata in a tit-for-tat move hours after Rabat expelled Damascus's envoy to that North African country.
Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said that Damascus declared "the accredited Moroccan ambassador to Syria persona non grata."
In its statement announcing Ismail's expulsion, Rabat cited violence in Syria as the trigger for its decision. It claimed that more than 20,000 people have so far been killed.
Rabat's move followed the defection last week of Syria's ambassador to Iraq and the flight the week before of a prominent general once close to Assad.
Western officials consider such defections as a sign of that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was losing his grip on power as the rebellion against him drags on.
Based on reporting by AFP, dpa, and Reuters