17 April 2014, Thursday
Today's Zaman

Defected Syria general says army must reject 'regime crimes'

25 July 2012, Wednesday /REUTERS
Defected Syrian brigadier general Manaf Tlas called on Tuesday for the Syrian military to denounce what he described as crimes committed by President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

"I address you...as one of the Syrian Arab Army's sons who reject the criminal behaviour of this corrupt regime. The honourable people in the military would not accept these crimes," Tlas said in a televised statement on al-Arabiya television.

The comments were his first to be aired publicly since Tlas, a rare Sunni Muslim member of President Bashar al-Assad's mostly Alawite inner circle and a senior officer in the Republican Guards, defected earlier this month.

Tlas, whose father Mustafa Tlas was Syria's defence minister for 32 years and confidante of Assad's father, the late President Hafez al-Assad, did not call outright for soldiers to defect, unlike scores of senior Sunni officers who have abandoned the army since the 16 month uprising.

He said preserving national unity was a priority in a post-Assad era.

"While I ask God to rest the soul of the martyrs of this great revolution, I call upon you to do the impossible to preserve the unity of Syria...

"Our duty today as Syrians is to assure each other and deny the opportunity for this regime and everyone who wants to fuel conflict between us as Syrians," Tlas said from an undisclosed location.

The officer corps of the Syrian army is mostly composed of members of Assad's Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam, which has dominated the power structure in the mostly Sunni country for the last five decades.

Sunni officers in the army usually hold administrative posts and are closely watched by the mostly Alawite intelligence apparatus.

WORLD  Other Titles
Australian premier's resignation as a sign of less, not more, corruption
UK PM's former media aide tells court he heard hacked messages
Aussie state premier's resignation a sign of less, not more, graft
Post, Guardian win Pulitzers for NSA revelations
Nigeria vows to protect May's ‘African Davos' in bomb-hit capital
Berlusconi ordered to do community service for tax conviction
Doctor to be tried in Britain's first female genital mutilation court case
Prosecutor wraps up Oscar Pistorius' grilling in murder trial
Syria opposition claims has evidence of chlorine gas attack
Egypt woman prof. targets young in bid to save Brotherhood
China seizes more than 10,000 illegal guns in crackdown
Macedonians vote for new president as general election nears
Complaints of serious fraud in Afghan polls exceed total in 2009
Indonesian parties in pact, clear way for top presidential candidate
UN climate panel warns emissions rising, blurs reason
Biden to visit Kiev to show US support for Ukraine unity
Iran rejects naming new United Nations envoy after US refusal
Death toll in fighting between Syrian rivals rises to 68
Venezuelan leader meets opposition
Egyptian police say kill two Brotherhood members in shootout
Murdered girl's mom says News of the World was force for good
Prosecutor, defense urge community service for Berlusconi
US health secretary quits over Obamacare
At least 10 dead when truck slams students bus in California
International students celebrate Prophet Muhammad in Gaziantep