Friday, 28 September 2012
Manaf Tlass was once one of Bashar al-Assad’s closest friends.
“He is humble. He loves people,” Tlass said when describing Assad. “But he has changed. The crisis has changed him.”
Before he defected this July, Tlass was the very image of an Assad regime insider.
His father is a former defense minister. He was a brigadier general in Syria’s republican guard. And, of course, he was a close friend of Assad’s.
But Tlass became disgusted with the regime’s brutal crackdown - and he learned about it in the exact same way the rest of the world has: by watching amateur video posted to YouTube.
“I remember very well how I defected,” Tlass told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour Thursday. “I remember that video that I saw when they stepped on the head of a Syrian citizen in Baniyas,” a city on Syria’s Western coast.
“I started to feel the feelings of a citizen.”
Tlass said he went to Assad and told him that the perpetrator should be punished. When Assad refused to react, Tlass knew that was it.
“Ever since then I can no longer be a friend of Bashar’s,” Tlass said.