Bashar al-Assad and Manaf Tlas
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Top Syrian general Manaf Tlas deserts Assad regime

A Syrian general from a powerful family close to President Bashar al-Assad has deserted the regime, sources close to his family have confirmed to the BBC.

They say Brig Gen Manaf Tlas was heading to Paris via Turkey.

Pro-government website Syriasteps earlier said Brig Gen Tlas had made an "escape", adding that the move was "insignificant".

If confirmed, it would be the highest-level defection since the unrest began in Syria 16 months ago.

The BBC's Humphrey Hawksley reports.

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