Syrian Defected General Says Assad Should Leave as Rebels Gain

Syrian Brigadier General Manaf Tlas, who defected in July, urged President Bashar al-Assad to step down, saying: “It’s over.”

In an interview with Dubai TV yesterday from Paris, Tlas said Assad, his childhood friend, refused to listen to his appeals to back Syrians’ demands for change. Assad would avoid responding directly and often said the uprising in Syria was a conspiracy and the rebels were armed gangs, according to Tlas.

A small circle of family members, security agencies and people benefiting from the government persuaded Assad that clamping down on protesters would lead to the end of the uprising that began in March 2011, Tlas said.

“They want to drag Syria to destruction and only care about staying in power,” he said in the interview. The uprising will be “victorious soon” and Assad should “leave,” he said.

Tlas also urged the Syrian army and institutions to disengage from the Assad administration and troops not to open fire on civilians.

Tlas, a Sunni Muslim like the overwhelming majority of the rebels, was a confidant of Assad, who is from the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. He’s the son of ex-Defense Minister Mustapha Tlas and was a commander in the elite Republican Guard when he defected.

In the interview, Tlas said he left the country because he was in danger of being killed. He urged Syria’s disparate opposition groups to work together and offer guarantees to minorities, including Christians and Alawites, that they have a place in a post-Assad Syria.

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