News / Middle East

Pentagon Welcomes Syrian General’s Defection

Luis Ramirez
PENTAGON — U.S. military officials are welcoming the defection of Syrian Brigadier General Manaf Tlass, a commander of Syria’s elite Republican Guard.

Violence has been escalating in Syria in recent days and so has the number of high-level officers who are leaving the Syrian army.  On hearing that Brigadier General Manaf Tlass - a senior official in the Syrian army and a former friend of the Assad family - had defected, U.S. defense officials said the news is not something to be taken lightly.  

Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain John Kirby told reporters the defection appears to be a crack in President Bashar al-Assad’s inner circle because the general was so close to the ruling family.

“It’s just another example of a senior member of the Syrian army who’s decided to turn against the regime to stop committing violent acts against the Syrian people. So we welcome this defection and believe it’s significant,” Kirby said.

Manaf Tlass is the son of former Defense Minister, Mustafa Tlass, who helped Bashar al-Assad’s father, Hafez al-Assad, set up the country’s internal security apparatus four decades ago.

Kirby indicated U.S. officials are watching for signs of more high-level defections from the Syrian army.  

“We certainly hope that that’s the case. This is just another defection here that we’ve seen.  We hope that others will follow his example.  Absolutely,” Kirby said.

Pentagon officials are not speculating on whether General Tlass’ departure indicates that the Assad government is about to crack under the weight of defections.  They note that Assad is still surrounded by loyalists who are following his orders.

“Bashar al-Assad has basically had a very tightly knit group of people controlling the mechanisms of government and I think breaking that up through diplomatic pressure and economic sanctions is a very difficult thing to do but this defection I think demonstrates that Assad’s position has weakened over time,” said Brian Katulis,  a security analyst at the Center for American Progress, a research organization in Washington.

The U.S. administration is providing non-lethal aid to the rebels through the Department of State and Pentagon officials on Friday said there are no plans to begin supplying weapons.

Defense and intelligence officials believe that sending weapons into Syria could lead to an escalation of the conflict and chaos because - among other things -  the Syrian opposition and rebels have not developed a command and control structure.  

For now, the U.S. is focusing on diplomatic efforts and assisting allies in the region who are more directly involved with intelligence on the situation in Syria.  

U.S. defense officials say  General Tlass was in Turkey Friday and had not had any contact with him.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
July 08, 2012 1:13 PM
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin says her comments are "totally unacceptable" and China's stance on Syria has wide support among members of the international community....
Sorry to put you on the SPOTLIGHT Mr Liu Weimin, but would you care to list these members of the international community? Maybe 3-4 Arms providers to Syria? Is that all you can list if that many??? Nobody is bashing China Liu Weimin , you guys are making a bad name for yourselves to the world. Sit back and sip your tea with Russia while thousands of innocent people are being slaughtered.


by: Stephen Teal from: Columbia uSA
July 07, 2012 2:31 AM
I got admit London and Paris have a knack for flipping these people. I wish I could say it was our guys who flipped this general but historically speaking it's always been the Brits, and friends, who have the mental talent of inciting mass defections. Come on fellas! We really need to step up our game and hang with the big dogs.


by: stillcrazy from: northern california
July 06, 2012 8:57 PM
putin and the chinese are about to wind up on the wrong side of history.

In Response

by: m.crawford from: north florida
July 07, 2012 3:09 AM
you are exactly correct,but i would add the iranians to that list

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid