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

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals 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.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More