News / Middle East

Defecting Syrian General Reported in Paris

Syrian General Munaf Tlass, January 20, 2011
Syrian General Munaf Tlass, January 20, 2011
TEXT SIZE - +
Lisa Bryant
PARIS — Syria's government faced multiple setbacks Wednesday, with a reported suicide bomb attack killing the defense minister and other senior officials. Meanwhile in Paris, a key Syrian military defector has finally surfaced in the French capital and has made his first statement.

In a statement sent to the Agence France-Press news agency, Syrian General Manaf Tlass blames Damascus for much of the conflict that has torn his country apart. A once-close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, General Tlass expressed hope the bloodshed would end in Syria and that a political transition will take place guaranteeing the country's unity, stability and security.

He said he is pained at seeing the Syrian army fight against its people and that he was called a traitor for refusing to join in.

Tlass is considered one of the Syrian government's highest ranking defectors. But he has kept a low profile since fleeing his country in early July and French officials have not been clear about his whereabouts.

Only at a news conference on Tuesday night did French President Francois Hollande confirm that General Tlass was in Paris.

Tlass was once a key member of President Assad's inner circle. His father was the longtime defense minister of President Assad's father, Hafez al-Assad.

In his statement to AFP, Tlass made no mention of joining the Syrian opposition. A Syrian opposition member contacted by VOA for comment did not immediately return the call.

But Syria analyst Nadim Shehadi, of the London-based think tank Chatham House, says the importance of General Tlass' defection is mostly symbolic.

"The father had been sidelined for almost 10 years and Manaf Tlass himself was sidelined [for] the last six months or so," said Shehadi. "So this does not affect the operational side of the regime. But what I think is most important is how this affects the legitimacy of the regime."

With that legitimacy eroding ever faster, Shehadi says, it's intensifying the dilemma for Russia, one of Syria's staunchest allies. "…whether [Russia should] continue sticking their neck out in support of the regime because they stand to lose a lot once it falls," said the analyst.

Russia has been blocking efforts in the U.N. Security Council to impose tougher sanctions against President Assad and his government.

You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid