(The Times of Israel) Manaf Tlas, one of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s closest friends and most trusted military colleagues, who is also the son of the Assad regime’s former long-serving defense minister, has defected from the Assad regime and fled to Turkey, in what one analyst described Thursday as the gravest blow yet to Assad’s regime.
Manaf Tlas and Bashar Assad have been friends since childhood, and the Tlas family, who are Sunni Muslims, have played a critical role in maintaining support for the Alawite Muslim Assads within the Syrian Sunni community. Colonel Tlas was a battalion commander in Assad’s elite Republican Guard.
According to Israel’s Channel 2 news, Tlas’s father Mustafa, who was the Syrian army’s chief of staff from 1968-1972, and then served as minister of defense from 1972-2004, has also abandoned Bashar Assad, though more discreetly. “He had slipped quietly away to Paris,” said Channel 2′s Ehud Yaari, a respected Arab affairs analyst.
Thursday, July 5, 2012
Assad’s childhood friend, a trusted military chief, defects in ‘gravest blow yet’ to Syrian regime