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.
|Bashar and Manaf during military training in the 90-ties|
Tlass's father Mustapah is believed to be in Paris and his brother Firas in Dubai. Landis says that is unknown where their families are.
It was reported earlier that by now some 15 generals have fled Syria or gone over to the other side. But Tlass, with his position in the Baath and the Republican Guard is by far the most important. He was also the highest placed Sunni Muslim in the country. His father Mustapha used to be a close confidant and friend of the former president Hafez al-Assad.The families have been close since Bashar and Manaf both were little boys. If it's true thatManaf defected, it is a big blow for Bashar Assad.