General Manaf Tlas, one of the most prominent defectors from the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, has hinted that French intelligence officials as well as the opposition Free Syrian Army helped him flee the Mideast country earlier this summer.
Speaking to BBC Arabic and France’s BFMTV news network, Tlas refused to provide specifics, but he did thank the Paris government.
"Since the start of the revolution, I had contacts with the revolutionaries, with the rebels," he said from his hiding place in Paris.
"During the first few days and months, I felt that the regime kept lying. That is the reason why I initially defected whilst staying in my office. I told the insurgents since the beginning that I had cut ties with the regime and that I agreed with their actions."
The general was formerly the commander of Assad’s elite 10th Brigade of the Republican Guard, while his father Mustafa served as the longtime defense minister for Hafez al-Assad, the current president’s father.
However, according to Reuters, Tlas said he opposes the use of foreign military intervention to topple Assad.
"I am against all foreign intervention in Syria ... it is up to the Syrian people to achieve its victory and it needs to do that itself," he said in the same interview.
"For me the situation in Libya is nothing like Syria, it is much more complicated. I don't see any foreign intervention being able to reach a solution.”
He added: "My role is to unify and bring together our people. There are many groups working in our society whether the army, internally or externally. We need to create a compact chain to bring this regime down."
Tlas also warned that Assad’s regime would use chemical weapons if they felt it was necessary.
U.S. President Barack Obama has stated for the record that if Assad deployed chemical weapons, that would likely trigger foreign intervention in Syria.
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