Dubai, Asharq Al-Awsat – The family of Syrian army defector, Brigadier General Manaf Tlass, is extremely angry regarding Bashar al-Assad’s targeting of their home town of Rastan. This is reportedly one of the reasons that led to his defection from the al-Assad regime, but not the only one. A well-informed source told Asharq Al-Awsat that Tlass had been subject to several death threats leading up to his defection, and it was this that ultimately led him to flee Syria. Tlass had also been marginalized in the months leading up to his defection, being placed under house arrest by the al-Assad regime.
A source close to the Tlass family informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Tlass’s defection from the Syrian regime army was expected, adding “I do not believe that he left to lead or fight a war against Bashar al-Assad.” The source claimed that Tlass had left the country to protect his own life, after he had received numerous death threats. The source stressed “it is not likely that he will join the FSA or Syrian National Council [SNC].”
The source claimed that Manaf Tlass rejected the security solution to crush the Syrian revolution, particularly after his home town of Rastan was targeted. He added that Tlass, due to his closeness with the Syrian president and his influence over the Syrian military, “was able to say that the military solution was wrong…and he believed that he could influence al-Assad in this regard, however it became clear that the pro-violence camp was stronger, and he found himself marginalized, and they placed him under house arrest.”
As for how a senior officer like Brigadier General Manaf Tlass was able to leave the country, the source told Asharq Al-Awsat that “Manaf, as a soldier, cannot leave Syria except with the permission of his direct commanding officer, and I personally do not know how he was able to leave.”
The source, who is close to the Tlass family, said “the Tlass family are angry at the regime’s behavior in Rastan…Rastan is the home town of Mustafa Tlass, and it is home to 1,700 officers, the majority of whom defected from the regime…for a human being cannot watch his home town being destroyed in this manner and sit and watch, or take part in this destruction.” He added “I do not believe Manaf will join the FSA, but he is not outside of the mantle of al-Assad.”
The source also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Manaf Tlass had attempted to reconcile the Syrian government with the Syrian dissidents in Rastan and Deraa, but these attempts all ended in failure. He also revealed that the Brigadier General had stopped wearing his military uniform approximately one month ago, instead wearing civilian clothes and growing his hair and beard.
Media reports claimed that the split between Manaf Tlass and the regime occurred over the military operation targeting the Baba Amro neighborhood of Homs, after Tlass refused to lead the military unit that attacked this neighborhood. Since that time, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad placed him under house arrest.