Syria defector Tlass in contact with opposition: France
PARIS - Agence France-Presse
A handout file photo released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on 16 September 2008 shows Nawaf Fares (L) who was named as Syria's ambassador to Iraq being sworn-in in front of Syrian President Bashar Assad (R) in Damascus, Syria. EPA Photo
A top Syrian military official who defected last week, General Manaf Tlass, has been in contact with the country's opposition, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Thursday, "I know that there is some closeness between the opposition and this general... contacts have been made," Fabius told journalists, without confirming that Tlass was in Paris as believed.
Tlass, the highest-ranking military officer to have abandoned the Syrian regime, was a member of the inner circle of power in Syria, and a childhood friend of President Bashar al-Assad.
A general in the elite Republican Guard charged with protecting the regime, he is the son of former defence minister Mustafa Tlass, a close friend of Assad's late father and predecessor, Hafez.
Several sources have said that he was either headed for Paris, where much of the Syrian political opposition is based, or was already there.