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Published On: Fri, Jul 6th, 2012

General Manaf Tlas defects, leaving Syria, his friend Assad

A Syrian general and personal friend of President Bashar al-Assad has defected and fled Syria, becoming the closest member of the leader’s inner circle to switch sides during the 16-month uprising.

A younger General Manaf Tlaf stands next to Bashar al-Assad photo/syrianhistory.com via al-Jazeera

Opposition activists have told Al Jazeera that Manaf Tlas, a brigade commander in Assad’s Republican Guard, has fled to Turkey and will soon announce that he abandoned Assad because of anger at civilian deaths.

Tlas is the son of a former Syrian defense minister and cousin of a first lieutenant in President Bashar al-Assad’s army.

“He’s an inside confidant of Assad. So it counts that even an insider thinks it’s time to go,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The official was not authorized to speak to the media.

A source in the opposition said a relative of Tlas had confirmed his defection.

“It’s a very important defection,” the source said. “His brigade is very attached to their general, so we can say the true defection has started.”

Tlas is estranged from the regime over the killing of Sunnis, the official said. His father, a former defense minister, and the rest of his family are in Paris, the official said.

Riad al-Asaad, the commander with the Free Syrian Army, told Al Jazeera from Turkey: “Our people picked [Tlas] up from the borders with Syria”. Asaad said on Thursday that he had not yet met with Tlas.

Reports of Tlas defection first surfaced Thursday. It was not immediately clear whether he was making his way to Paris to join his family.

 

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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