Member of Assad's Inner Circle Defects
General's defection a sign regime may be falling apart
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 6, 2012 12:18 AM CDT
Updated Jul 6, 2012 5:00 AM CDT
Manaf Tlass, to the right of Assad, is a member of one of Syria's most powerful families.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Is Bashar al-Assad's regime starting to crumble? The Syrian leader's staying power has been credited to the resilience of his inner circle (in contrast to Moammar Gadhafi's), but one of the regime's main figures has reportedly defected to Turkey. Brig. Gen. Manaf Tlass is a close friend of Assad's and a commander in the Republican Guards. If his defection is confirmed, it will be the regime's most significant loss yet, reports the New York Times.

"Manaf is one of the regime's main figures," says a member of the opposition Syrian National Council. The defection "is not only a strong strike against the regime, but the strongest message yet to Bashar that he is no longer safe, and a message to other officers thinking about defecting," he says. The chief of the United Nations observer mission in Syria, meanwhile, says violence has surged to an "unprecedented level" because the parties involved have decided their goals will not be served by the political process, reports the Los Angeles Times.

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Jul 6, 2012 8:28 AM CDT
It would be a miracle if whoever takes over Syria is Pro-western. Libya and Egypt aren't. This General is merely saving his skin knowing what we did to all of Iraq's leadership. Hunted down and killed.
Jul 6, 2012 1:05 AM CDT
While fires rage along border to keep people from defecting, the general is thinking, I'm too young to die for this f'idiot mass murderer. However, could he also be who the U.N. and NATO would like to see come back to head the temporary government? So he agreed to leave in order to encourage more of Assad's army to lay down their arms in order to bring the conflict to an end and leave Assad high and dry.