General Tlas Manaf, who was a close friend of Syrian ruler Bashar Al-Assad, has left the Syrian Army to seek asylum in Paris
General Tlas Manaf was a member of the Republican Guard and an important man to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. Manaf is now en route to Paris after having defected this Thursday according to French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius.
Aged about 40, Tlas arrived in Turkey on Thursday and is on his way to Paris where his father Mustaffa Tlas lives. His father was a former minister of defence and will be participating in the conference of Friends of the Syrian people.
Originally from Rastane, a town in the province of Homs which is now in rebel hands, Manaf was a childhood friend of president Assad. He was relieved of his duties last year after he unsuccessfully tried to negotiate a truce between the regime and rebels.
For several months, Manaf traded his uniform for civilian clothes in Damascus where he let his hair and beard grow in order to avoid the Syrian army.
Sources say that he had refused to lead the Syrian Army unit during the attack on a district of Homs, Baba Amro. Manaf’s family is already abroad and his brother is a businessman in Dubai.
His cousin, Abdel Razzak Tlas is the leader of the Homs Farouk brigade, a combat unit of the Syrian rebel army which is composed largely of deserters.
“If Manaf Tlas’ defection is confirmed, it will be a painful blow for the regime and circles close to them because he was a close to the ruling family,” says Rami Abdel Rahman, president of OSDH.