Regime’s Top Sunni Defects – General Manaf Mustafa Tlass Flees to Turkey

General Manaf Tlass, One of Syria’s top Sunni Military Figures from the Inner-circle of Bashar al-Assad, has Defected.
Bashar al-Assad and Manaf Tlass, sons of the President and Defense Minister, attending military training in the 1990s

Addendum: My sources in Damascus say that Manaf’s house is being ransacked earlier today. The source went by the house in person.

Spokesperson of Turkish foreign Ministry: Two high rank officers in the Syrian Army have arrive to Turkey during the last three days. He didn’t wish to reveal their names. However, there are wide range media speculation that one of those officers is Manaf Tlas, the son of EX Syrian Defence Minister

Kim Ghattas (@BBCKimGhattas)
7/5/12 2:10 PM
Message posted by one of Tlass brothers on social media seems to confirm they have defected #Syria

Zaid Benjamin (@zaidbenjamin)
7/5/12 11:08 PM
‏عاجل: المخابرات الفرنسية اشرفت على عملية تهريب العميد مناف مصطفى طلاس من سوريا حيث وصل اليوم الى باريس ‎‪- Says that French intelligence are overseeing his transportation to Paris, where he arrived today.

For 16 months the opposition has been complaining that elite Sunnis have not defected. That complaint can now, officially, be put to rest if the stories of Manaf’s flight prove to be true. In March it was rumored that he had led with his father and brother, but those stories were false.

Manaf Tlass, the son of ex-Defense Minister (1972 – 12 May 2004), Mustafa Tlass, has fled the country. Mustafa Tlass was instrumental in smoothing the way for Bashar to assume power after the death of his father.

When Hafez al-Assad died in June 2000, his son Bashar was immediately promoted in military rank by Defense Minister Mustapha Tlass. He was also made secretary-general of the Baath Party whereas Manaf became a member of the Party’s Central Committee and an officer in the Republican Guard.

On Tuesday, all of Syria was buzzing that Manaf had defected but there was no confirmation. His Honda had supposedly turned up in the Rukn ad-Din neighborhood of Damascus, but he was no where to be found. Rumors of his possible defection were wide-spread on Twitter.

Syria-Steps, an on-line news source in Syria that is known for being pro-regime, has just confirmed the rumors. It claims:
أكد مصدر أمني رفيع المستوى “لسيرياستيبس” فرار العميد مناف مصطفى طلاس إلى تركيا..
“A highly placed source in intelligence has confirmed that General Manaf Mustafa Tlass has fled to Turkey.”

Manaf Tlass’s father and brother, Firas who is a leading businessman, are believed to be out of the country. The father had gone to Paris on the pretext of getting medical attention. Firas is said to be in Dubai. It is not clear where the women and children of his family are.

Manaf Tlass was a close confidant of Bashar from his earliest days and part of his inner circle or “shille”, which included people, such as his cousins Rami and Hafiz Makhlouf,  Mudar al-Assad (son of Rifaat), Nader Qala’i (ex-CEO of Syriatel and business partner to Rami) Yazan Aslan (son of Ali Aslan, Chief of Staff)

Manaf is as handsome as a movie star and carried a lot of authority. He was a true military guy and had spent his entire life in the military, unlike Bashar. People close to him say that when he walked into a room, all eyes turned to him. Not only did women find him attractive, but men did as well. He carried himself with an air of self-confidence and authority. He is smart, dashing and cunning.

The word is that Manaf had been told to solve the Harasta and Duma problems (the growing uprising on the outskirts of Damascus). He did a good job by negotiating with the opposition leaders in both suburbs, agreeing that both government forces and opposition would pull back. The Alawi leadership said “no, that is not how we are going to do this.” They pushed him aside and came down like a ton of bricks on the opposition in both neighborhoods, in an effort to assert state authority and crush the uprising through military means.

Manaf supported a policy of negotiation, flexibility and compromise. He was overruled by the military leadership and has since looked for a way out.

If he has indeed fled the country, the regime will be thrown back on its heels. Manaf is perhaps the most senior Sunni in the regime because he was a close friend of Bashar, he came from the Tlass family which had been at the Assads’ side from the earliest days of Hafiz’s assumption of power, and because he was situated at the heart of the military. When foreign statesmen or Syrians thought of a Sunni who could possibly take power, Manaf had to be at the top of the list or very close to the top. Of course, Farouq al-Sharaa, the VP is usually thought of as the Sunni who could serve as an interim leader because he is Vice President, but Manaf is respected by Bashar’s generation and a military leader.

The Tlass family in 1990s? Manaf is on the right. From right to left: Colonel Manaf Tlass and his wife Tala, General Mustafa Tlass and his wife Lamia, Firas Tlass and his wife Rania (Rania is a Jabri (a leading Sunni notable family of Aleppo).

Comments (229)

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201. annie said:

Beloved TARA “One innocent life is worth much more than Bashar and his family combined.”
SON OF DAMASCUS “a welcomed defection because any soul that can help bring an end to this dictatorship and help to finally put an end to the bloodletting is better than the opposite of that.”

Defectors should be welcome even at this late stage because without them there won’t be any toppling of the regime.
When the regime is over, the first job will be the reconstruction of the country and reconciliation after the real criminals have been sentenced.

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July 6th, 2012, 7:15 am


202. omen said:

mina (5:36) if misplaced sectarian loyalty weren’t held to be more important than objecting to savagery, the regime would had been ousted long ago.

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July 6th, 2012, 7:25 am


203. omen said:

194. MINA said: The Western media is making its best these days never to mention “Wabbahism” as the dogma behind the destruction of the mosques and saints sanctuaries in Tumbuktu. So indeed, you are right. The EU is getting bailed out by the Gulf and Wahhabi influence is allowed to creep wherever it wants “in the Muslim world”.

bbc news reported this islamist group waging destruction is being used as a proxy and has ties to the algerian regime.

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July 6th, 2012, 7:32 am


204. omen said:

101. UZAIR8 said: As the final collapse of the regime comes closer things may get a little nastier on SC. I’ll probably slip into the shadows.

when the going gets tough…?

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July 6th, 2012, 7:53 am


205. Alan said:

Iraq warns of al-Qaeda influx to Syria

Russia ‘categorically denies’ claims it supports Assad – Foreign ministry

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July 6th, 2012, 8:12 am


206. Alan said:

‘No chance of unity government in Syria’
Iraq’s Foreign Minister is blaming al-Qaeda members for orchestrating the uprising against Syria’s president. In a news briefing, he said militants from the terror network were flowing into Syria. Violence there is worsening, with over a hundred people killed in the last three days. Reports say fighting’s intensifying in Homs, where troops are clashing with rebels. Paul Sheldon Foote, a Middle East expert from California State University, says he doesn’t believe the coalition government is possible in Syria.

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July 6th, 2012, 8:17 am


207. majedkhaldoun said:

Where is Manaf Tlass now? He is not in France yet,Is Turkey interrogating him?or CIA is doing that?He is not going to join the FSA, in the last 16 months, he was told to stay home , this prove that Alawis do not trust any Sunni.
We have had many FOS meetings it is not doing any good.
If we have armed the Opposition long time ago,the Assad would have been history long time ago.those who called for Silmyieh has prolonged the conflict.Assad is incompetent but lucky.
King Abdullah of Jordan is afraid to help the Syrians he is afraid about his throne, those who are quiet are accomplices in Assad crimes

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July 6th, 2012, 8:18 am


208. Alan said:

TOZ !!! wich price ! Toz againe !
Clinton: Russia & China will ‘pay price’ for supporting Assad
and for the end againe Toz !

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July 6th, 2012, 8:22 am


209. Alan said:

Clinton ! it is provocative !

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July 6th, 2012, 8:26 am


210. omen said:

bbc tv: now the french foreign minister is saying manaf tlass is on his way to paris.

aje blog:

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius confirmed on Friday a Syrian general who was close to President Bashar al-Assad had defected and was bound for Paris.

Manaf Tlas, a brigade commander in Syria’s Republican Guard who went to military college with Assad, fled to Turkey this week, sources told Reuters.

“I can confirm that he has defected and is on his way to France,” Fabius told a meeting of world leaders and Syrian rebels in Paris.

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July 6th, 2012, 8:30 am


211. Alan said:

Moscow Warns West of ‘Big War’ in Syria
Moscow lashed out on Thursday at the Western position on Syria, saying it could aggravate the situation to the point of war.
“Their [Western] position is most likely to exacerbate the situation, lead to further violence and ultimately a very big war,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
The West has also distorted the Russian position on Syria by suggesting Moscow should offer Syrian President Bashar al-Assad asylum, he said.
“This is either an unscrupulous attempt to mislead serious people who shape foreign policy or simply a misunderstanding of what is going on,” Lavrov said.
He also warned that Russia will reject any UN Security Council peace enforcement resolution on Syria, since that would be “nothing but intervention.”../../..

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July 6th, 2012, 8:31 am


212. Alan said:

Homs of Death: ‘Unprecedented’ violence escalation alarms UN
Shelling continues in the Syrian city of Homs as a UN monitor admits the violence in the country has reached unprecedented levels. More than a hundred people have been killed in the last three days. RT correspondent Maria Finoshina described the situation on the ground as a “destructive nightmare.”

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July 6th, 2012, 8:53 am


213. omen said:



wtf man?
This is such a clear case of war-rhetoric that you should be ashamed of yourseld to even post that. […] and calling for bloodshed after a possible success of the revolution is just really really dumb.

i must say i agree. nothing is served by answering genocide with genocide.

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July 6th, 2012, 9:08 am


214. Alan said:

The threat of Mrs. Clinton against Russia and China put the U.S. under the response on the part of Russia and China!Drama biting fingers. Thank you for your candor Mrs. Clinton in a statement! message of passed!

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July 6th, 2012, 9:10 am


215. Aldendeshe said:

192. Antoinesaid:


Recently I learned the interesting fact that both USA and USSR, both CIA and KGB, supported Nasser’s 1952 Coup (so callled Revolution).

I wonder why CIA wanted Nasser to grab power in Egypt.

As far as I know the Egyptian King Farouk I was a old-fashioned pro-British type ( like all Arab Kings).

Was there a long-term plan ?

Yes, installing Nasser (a freemason)in power and removing Mosaddeq from Iran, as well as installing the house of Saud, Assad and Saddam, and replacing the shah Pahlavi with Mullah Islamists are all parts of the same long term plan by the Secret Ammonite Government. The CIA just takes orders, it is not a policy making body, it is a policy implementing one.

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July 6th, 2012, 9:40 am


216. irritated said:

Miss Piggy in ‘the shadow of the Eiffel tower’ with zionist Laurent Fabius seems to have a hysteria fit after Lavrov rejected her advances in Geneva.

I don’t think Russia and China believe they are paying any price at all for standing up for the Assad regime,” Ms. Clinton said in a “Friends of the Syrian People” meeting held this morning in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

Yet Moscow and Beijing “should pay a price,” Mrs. Clinton said in strong tones to the French-hosted meeting

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July 6th, 2012, 10:23 am


217. zoo said:

The fall of Khan Sheikhoun. The rebels withdraw ( where?)

Anti-regime activists say Syrian forces have killed at least 25 people, arrested scores more and torched dozens of homes while seizing a northern city from rebels.

Osama Kayal from the city, Khan Sheikhoun, said Friday that local fighters repelled an army advance early this week, destroying at least six army vehicles and killing the soldiers inside.

Rebels withdrew on Wednesday when a larger force arrived, backed by attack helicopters, said Kayal and other activists.

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July 6th, 2012, 10:27 am


218. bronco said:

Tlass’s Paris connection

Tlass is on his way to Paris to join his wife and his sister, Nahed Ojjeh, widow of Saudi millionaire arms dealer Akram Ojjeh.
Nahed Ojjeh, a tough business woman, married Ojjeh when she was 18, he was 60. She later had a tumultuous love and business life in France.
Among other relations, she is said to have been Roland Dumas’s mistress.

Her story and her family’s would make a fascinating TV series…

A well connected family, indeed…

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July 6th, 2012, 10:39 am


219. KDD said:

It is ironic that Manaf’s negotiation tactics by far were the most effective in reducing casualties and violence, and were in the regime’s best interest. I know that he negotiated with Zabadani rebels last year where they pulled back voluntarily – no bloodshed.

The regime may have survived if they acted “bil husna” or in kindness and compassion. But the actions tht followed shows the tunnel vision that this regime has – that violence and instilling fear (a la Hafez) is the only answer to everything that happens. Essentially, this is the nuclear option. It’s a gamble that you can only keep doubling down on until completely bankrupt. Thus, we are now witnessing the death spiral.

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July 6th, 2012, 10:57 am


220. zoo said:

Syria becomes a matter of prestige for government, (not national interest)… and a nightmare for Erdogan.

The Wall Street Journal article casting doubts on Turkey’s account of the downing of its jet by Syria has sent the blood rushing to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s head once again. The fact that unnamed sources in Moscow also are telling much the same to the Russian media is no doubt increasing the anger in Ankara.

The simple fact is that the whole Syria affair is turning into a matter of prestige for the Erdoğan government. In the meantime the policy it pursued towards this country from the start is being questioned at home where more and more people are wondering why Turkey has been brought to a position of war with a neighbor when there are no apparent national interests at stake.

This is why the government has to pursue this case in a way that enhances its political credibility at home and abroad, since ending up in a position of eating humble pie over Syria will hardly tally with the “regional power image” that Prime Minister Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu are plugging hard for Turkey.

There is a Turkish saying which has it that “the sums done at home do not always match the realities of the marketplace.” Looking at the big picture Ankara seems to be faced with just such a situation over Syria.

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July 6th, 2012, 11:01 am


221. Uzair8 said:

217. Zoo

Once again the regime got lucky as the FSA ran out of ammo.

Majed may be right (#207). One of these days Assad will run out of luck. One of these days…

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July 6th, 2012, 11:04 am


222. Tara said:


A fascinating TV series indeed. To add

Rania Jabri ( Firas Tlass’ wife) comes from a family with similar arrangement. A striking age difference between her parents, doubt for love as the father is known to be very rich.

The spin is Asma al Assad and Rania are somehow related.

Josh said that Rania is from prominent Sunni Aleppine family…Ironically, the family prominence
in Sunni Syria is measured by the size of the bank account..They can be peasant in essence yet prominent.

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July 6th, 2012, 11:05 am


223. bronco said:

#219 KDD

the most effective in reducing casualties and violence, and were in the regime’s best interest
Some may argue that it only allowed the rebels to regroup and wait for more weapons to regain control.
While Tllas was thinking that the rebels will take the olive branch, it is obvious they didn’t in view of the powerful arms they got in in the few weeks that followed the Zabadani crisis and during the UN “peace” mission.

He may have been well intentioned, but I am not sure if he was effective for the government.
The rebels have been and are still determined to topple the government by violence, at any cost.

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July 6th, 2012, 11:09 am


224. bronco said:

@222 Tara

The Tlass Saga.. Who will write it?

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July 6th, 2012, 11:11 am


225. zoo said:

Russia preparing its return in Egypt

Carving a New Niche in Egypt
04 July 2012

There are a number of reasons why it is important for Russia to develop relations with the new Arab elites. First, it presents an opportunity to strengthen Moscow’s influence in the region amid the diminished economic strength of Russia following the Soviet collapse.

Second, it would be advantageous for Russia to establish a dialogue with moderate Islamist forces, primarily among Muslim Brotherhood members. Such experience would also help stabilize the situation in the North Caucasus. Conversely, the political defeat of moderate Islamic parties could lead to the further radicalization and destabilization of the Middle East. That, in turn, could radicalize the North Caucasus and other Muslim regions within Russia.

To help promote Russia’s interests in the Middle East, the Moscow-Istanbul-Rome Initiative, or MIR Initiative, held a conference in Rome in late May called “Bridging the New Middle East.” The Muslim Brotherhood leadership and its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, participated. They stressed that Russia could best strengthen its position in the Middle East by focusing on relations with the new Egypt.

Russia first strengthened its position in the Arab world by means of its strong relationship with former Egyptian President Gamal Nasser. Today, with the emergence of Morsi, Russia has an opportunity to return to the big game in the Middle East.

Read more:
The Moscow Times

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July 6th, 2012, 11:18 am


226. zoo said:

“As for me, I hope that Arab people everywhere will start building the Kingdom of Allah on Earth as soon as possible. The sooner it is erected, the sooner it will collapse. It was the same with communism. It was only when Soviet leaders actually tried to build communism that all of its myths were completely dispelled.

Sometimes you have to build a system to kill it.”

Elections in the Arab World Are a Bad Idea
04 July 2012
By Yulia Latynina

The Nazis won the elections in 1932. Salvodor Allende, a Marxist, won the elections in Chile in 1970. And now Islamist Mohammad Morsi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, won the presidential election in Egypt.

These events reveal two facts. First, devoted missionaries of liberal democracy were wrong in their naive belief that the overthrow of bloody Arab dictators would bring freedom and liberty to oppressed people. The problem is that the people themselves don’t share these values. Take, for example, a survey by the polling agency Free Egyptians in which an overwhelming majority of Egyptians supported the terrorist attacks against the United States on 9/11.

While free elections brought Hamas, a terrorist organization, to power in the Palestinian Authority, elections in countless African and South American countries have been won by cannibals and terrorists alike.

Free elections are great tools in the West, when the people choose, for example, between Republicans and Democrats in the United States or Liberals and Conservatives in Britain. But in the Arab Middle East, elections aren’t such a good idea. There, the people’s will is solely responsible for bringing to power the third form of totalitarianism to appear after the Nazis and Communists: religious totalitarianism.

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July 6th, 2012, 11:24 am


227. irritated said:

The FOS meeting in Paris

The usual hysteria of France calling the UNSC for a chapter 7 resolution and for Bashar to go. The usual promises to send more ‘communications equipment’ to the rebels, the nth SNC call for corridors and for Alawites to defect etc…

The only interesting point is that the next FOS meeting will be in Morocco and next in Italy. Nice program.
How can I join?.

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July 6th, 2012, 11:43 am


228. omen said:

experts tell us that military intervention would be ill advised. we are told that syrian people need to overthrow the regime on their own. that by forging their own way, somehow, strengthens the path towards developing their own democracy.

by that logic, shouldn’t experts also denounce external machinations as well, such as the friends of syria, who are seeking to institute a political solution by engineering a transition.

why is one form of intervention bad but not the other one?

it doesn’t make sense.

syrians are expected to:

1) to do this on their own. bare their chests and turn themselves in cannon fodder, sacrificing their lives in attempt to overthrow the regime.


2) are expected to passively accept an external solution handed down to them, not of their own making.

these two expectations contradict one another.

and the anti military intervention argument sends an ugly message. it implies that syrians are expected to die en masse without help, but, if they do manage to overthrow the regime, they aren’t possibly capable enough to manage their own affairs and need the caretaking of the “international community” to set up a proper framework (aka puppet ruler.)

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July 6th, 2012, 12:15 pm


229. Syrialover said:

Fascinating exercise. Statements by Iranian leaders analysed with a body language lie detector.

Imagine if they do Bashar, Jaafari and the gang!

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July 14th, 2012, 9:43 pm


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