Close military ally of Syrian president defects
General and personal friend of al-Assad reportedly flees to France
Battered by an ongoing revolt that has withstood all military
crackdowns, many within Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's inner circle
have begun to flee for their lives. The latest: Syrian general and
personal friend Manaf Tlas has since left Syria, and is reportedly
fleeing to Paris, France.
Syrian general and personal friend Manaf of Syrian president Tlas has since left Syria, and is reportedly fleeing to Paris, France.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has confirmed that Tlas, who attended military college with the 46-year-old Assad, has defected and was bound for Paris. The son of Mustafa Tlas, Manaf Tlas has served as defense minister for 30 years under former president Hafez al-Assad and briefly under his son, the current president.
A witness in Damascus said says that Tlas' house in Damascus was ransacked this week by security agents after these reports.
"Our people picked [Tlas] up from the borders with Syria," Riad al-Asaad, the commander with the Free Syrian Army, told Al Jazeera from Turkey. The commander has not yet met with Tlas.
The news Web site Syriasteps, aligned with Assad's security services, quoted a Syrian official as saying Tlas was in Turkey. "His desertion means nothing. If Syrian intelligence had wanted to arrest him it would have."
One source say the defection is very significant. "It's a very important defection . His brigade is very attached to their general, so we can say the true defection has started."
A U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity from Washington says that "General Tlas is a big name and his apparent decision to ditch Assad hurts, even though it probably didn't come as a surprise.
"Tlas lately seems to have been on the outs, but he's got charisma and some smarts. If he joins the insurgents, that could be significant," the official said.
Tlas had embarked on several unsuccessful reconciliation missions between government loyalists and rebels in Rastan and the southern province of Daraa, according to a source with close ties to Damascus,
A member in the elite Republican Guard, Tlas was sidelined more than a year ago, after he was deemed unreliable.
Tlas later gave up his military uniform and opted for civilian clothing. He set up residence in Damascus, where he let his beard and hair grow long.
Tlas' father, who served as defense minister between 1972 and 2004, was in office during the 1982 Hama Massacre, which reportedly left between 20,000 and 48,000 people dead. Many opposition activists accuse the older Tlas of complicity, and have called for him to be prosecuted for war crimes.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
- - -
Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Bashar al-Assad, Syria, Manaf Tlas, uprising
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Middle East News
- The Truth About Syria: Persecution of Syrian Christians Cries Out For Prayer and Action
- Kids learn murder at summer camp in Gaza
- How one man started a movement by standing still
- Syria accused in 'ethnic cleansing' of Sunni Muslims
- Obama to arm Syrian rebels after Assad chemical weapons use confirmed
- Syrian death toll of 92,901 feared to be conservative estimate
- 15-year-old Syrian boy gunned down by Islamist terriorists for heretical comment
- Iconic image of pepper sprayed woman becomes icon of resistance, feminism
- Oops? Obama administration publishes details of secret Israeli military base
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?