Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad has issued a formal decree sacking Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jameel from his position. Jameel is alleged to have carried out meetings "without coordinating with the government", the Syrian news agency SANA said on Tuesday.
Arab and foreign media sources said earlier that Jameel, who is one of the few opposition leaders within the Assad regime, had held a meeting with officials from the US State Department in Geneva.
SANA said that the ex-Deputy PM was accused of "leaving his work place without permission" and "carrying out missions and meetings outside the country without prior coordination with the government and transgressing working guidelines."
The sacking comes as UN and Arab League envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi is holding marathon meetings with Syrian opposition groups represented within the regime in preparation for Geneva II talks.
A number of media sources claim that Jameel has actually defected and left for Moscow several days ago.