News / Middle East

Syrian Activist Says Top General Defects

Mike Richman
A top Syrian general and one-time confidante of President Bashar al-Assad has defected from Syria and is believed to be in Turkey, a potentially serious blow to Assad's regime.

Sipan Hassan of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told VOA his activist group learned from journalists and security sources in Syria that Manaf Tlas has left the country.

“What we can say about this defection, it will be a very important strike to the regime of Bashar al-Assad because Manaf Tlas was one of the important people in the regime and he was very close to the presidential family, to Bashar al-Assad and his brother, Maher, and also he was from the Republican Guards," said Hassan. "The defection of someone like Manaf Tlas, we can take it as the beginning of the end for Bashar al-Assad.”

Brigadier General Manaf Tlass

  • Member of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's inner circle
  • One of the highest-ranking military officials to desert the Assad regime
  • Received military training with Assad
  • Commanded unit of elite Republican Guards
  • Son of former Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass
  • Is a member of a prominent Sunni Muslim family
Hassan said Tlas is expected to formally announce his defection in the coming days.  The activist said Colonel Riad al-Assad of the opposition Free Syrian Army announced on Thursday that Tlas is in Turkey.

Turkey has not confirmed that Tlas is in that country.

Western and Middle Eastern news sources, as well as Syrian opposition groups, have also have reported the general's defection.

Hassan also said the general's departure may influence other Syrian military officers to leave the country.

"Sure, 100 percent, this defection will be effective for maybe another higher-level also in the regime, and he had very good relations with officers and generals, and that will be a very important step in the defections in the Syrian military,” added Hassan.

Hassan said his group has heard that Tlas may be in Paris Friday for the Friends of Syria meeting, which includes delegates from about 100 countries opposed to Assad and 100 members of the opposition.

French President Francois Hollande opened the meeting by saying that Assad must relinquish his hold on power.  He said the Syrian president's departure is in everyone's best interest.

Hollande also called for an increase in humanitarian aid to the Syrian people.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking at the meeting, also denounced the Assad regime.  She said it is against "every norm of international law and human decency" for a government to murder its own people.

She urged the U.N. Security Council to support a measure that would impose immediate sanctions on Syria, and she called on Russia and China to back the aspirations of the Syrian people.

Russia and China, two of Syria's most powerful allies, are not participating in the Paris meeting.  The two permanent Security Council members have repeatedly vetoed tough Council action against Syria.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Spiro from: Greece
July 06, 2012 12:39 PM
Notice - he did not defect to the degenerate turkies

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
July 06, 2012 7:15 AM
Isn't it a bit too optimistic to think that defection of a brigadier would introduce following defections of offitials and collapse of Assad's regime?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs