Syria Live Blog
Top Syrian deserter planned desertion for months, according to friends
Defected Syrian Brigadier General Manaf Tlass, a friend of President Bashar al-Assad, had planned for months to leave Syria but kept his intentions quiet, media reported Saturday.
"His departure to Paris via Turkey ... took even his father by surprise," reported English-language Lebanese Daily Star newspaper, citing family friends.
It added that his father, a former Syrian defence minister, cut short a holiday in Cyprus and flew back to Paris as soon as he heard of his son's desertion.
Tlass started to plan his desertion after al-Assad's forces launched a major offensive against his hometown Rastan in the central province of Homs in May through to September 2011, added the paper.
At the time, Tlass was still a close confidante of al-Assad.
However he was pushed aside after becoming convinced that the regime should negotiate with the opposition rebels, and he came under state surveillance two months ago.