September 28th, 2012
01:06 PM ET

Defected Syrian General: "I could no longer call Bashar al-Assad a friend..."

The Friday, Sept. 28th edition of Amanpour, host Christiane Amanpour will include an interview with Brigadier General Manaf Tlass.  General Tlass, formerly a life-long friend of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, defected from the Syrian Republican Guard this summer.  In this advance excerpt from the interview that will air today on CNN International, he speaks to Amanpour about the moment he knew he could no longer serve his president:

AMANPOUR:  Bashar al-Assad was your friend.  Describe him.  Describe his character.

TLASS:  This question is really embarrassing because I defected because I started to feel the feelings of a citizen.

I remember very well how I defected.  I cannot speak in that light.   Because I remember that video that I saw when they stepped on the head of a Syrian citizen in Banias.  I could no longer call Bashar al-Assad a friend.  But when I told him after seeing that video, that person who stepped on the head of the Syrian citizen must be punished, ever since then I can no longer be a friend of Bashar's.

He has different qualities, he is humble.  He loves people.  But he has changed.  The crisis has changed him.

The full transcript for this interview will be posted here.

Amanpour airs weekdays on CNN International at 3:00pm with a replay at 5:00pm Eastern in the U.S.   In Europe, Amanpour airs on CNN Internatioanl at 21:00 CET, with a replay at 23:00 CET.


July 16th, 2012
07:00 AM ET

Zakaria: "The various opposition groups are coming together to plan for a post-Assad Syria"

CNN's Fareed Zakaria debriefed the meaning of recent defections from the upper ranks of Syria's diplomatic and military elites on the Sunday, July 15th edition of FAREED ZAKARIA GPS.  He describes why close Syria watchers feel that the recent defections are significant, and that some feel that some of the military unable to leave the regime may be "deliberately missing their targets."  Zakaria also says that the opposition is becoming more organized.  Below is the transcript excerpt with Zakaria's analysis of recent events inside Syria:

ZAKARIA:  Over the past sixteen months of bloody conflict in Syria, observers have been waiting for one key development: top-level defections from within President Assad's inner circle.

Suddenly, it seems a pressure valve has gone off.  Pilots, ambassadors, and even one general have defected.  What does it mean?  The general is Manaf Tlas, a childhood friend of Assad, and an officer in the elite Republican Guard.

Tlas's father was chief of staff and then minister of defense, for 30 years, under Bashar's father, Hafez al-Assad.  This is as close to the top of the Syrian regime as you might get.  That's why Hillary Clinton took special note of Tlas.  FULL POST