Syrian exile says others may follow general who defected


Associated Press

Posted on July 6, 2012 at 9:01 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 6 at 11:04 PM

BEIRUT (AP) — Now that a top Syrian general has abandoned President Bashar Assad's regime, others from inside the regime may do the same.

That's the view of an exiled former member of Assad's ruling Baath party. He says there are "hundreds" of diplomats, military commanders and others who want to leave, but have been "too scared."

The defection of Brig. Gen. Manaf Tlass is the highest-profile departure in the 16-month uprising against Assad.

He was a commander in the powerful Republican Guard, and the son of a former defense minister who was the most trusted lieutenant of Assad's father when he was president.

Analysts say the general had supported negotiations with the opposition as the conflict worsened, and that he became frustrated when he was overruled by the military leadership in favor of a brutal crackdown.

His whereabouts since his defection aren't known, through a French official had said he was on his way to France, where his sister lives.

%@AP Links

157-c-10-(Mark Lavie (lah-VEE'), AP Middle East correspondent)-"officer to bolt"-AP Middle East Correspondent Mark Lavie in Cairo reports a top general has defected from the Syrian regime. (6 Jul 2012)

<<CUT *157 (07/06/12)>> 00:10 "officer to bolt"

156-v-30-(Mark Lavie (lah-VEE'), AP Middle East correspondent)--Syria's regime has been hit by a key defection. More from AP Middle East Correspondent Mark Lavie in Cairo. (6 Jul 2012)

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