Hollande: Syrian general who defected is in France

July 17, 2012 - 2:39 PM

PARIS (AP) — French President Francois Hollande is confirming that Brig. Gen. Manaf Tlass, who defected from the Syrian regime, is in France.

Tlass fled Damascus last week, but it's the first time his presence in France has been confirmed by authorities.

Syria is caught up in a civil war brought about after President Bashar Assad cracked down on a popular uprising that began 16 months ago.

Tlass was a confidant of Assad and son of a former defense minister.

His defection buoyed Western powers and anti-regime activists, who expressed hope that other high-ranking defections would follow.

Hollande spoke at a press conference with Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki.