Manaf Tlas
Manaf Tlas Reuters

Defected Syrian brigadier general Manaf Tlas called on Tuesday for the Syrian military to denounce what he described as crimes committed by President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

“I address one of the Syrian Arab Army's sons who reject the criminal behavior of this corrupt regime. The honorable people in the military would not accept these crimes," Tlas said in a televised statement on Al-Arabiya television.

Reuters noted that the comments were his first to be aired publicly since Tlas, a senior officer in the Republican Guards, defected earlier this month.

Tlas, whose father Mustafa Tlas was Syria's defense minister for 32 years and confidante of Assad's father, former President Hafez al-Assad, did not call outright for soldiers to defect. He noted that preserving national unity was a priority in a post-Assad era.

“Our duty today as Syrians is to assure each other and deny the opportunity for this regime and everyone who wants to fuel conflict between us as Syrians,” Tlas said.

His comments came as pressure mounted for Assad to quit.

"We do believe that it is not too late for the Assad regime to commence with planning for a transition to find a way that ends the violence," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday, according to wire reports.

The Arab League on Monday directly offered Assad and his family a safe exit from Syria if he agreed to leave the country.

Al Jazeera reported on Tuesday that the Syrian ambassador to Cyprus had defected and left for Qatar.

Lamia al-Hariri is the second Syrian diplomat to join the opposition, following Nawaf Fares, the ambassador to Iraq, who defected earlier in July. Fares was also reported to be in Qatar.

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