Tlass calls for "New Syria" amid heavy clashes in Aleppo
Defecting General Manaf Tlass has pleaded for "building a new Syria," in a statement to the Arabic television channel Al-Arabiya. The highest ranking officer who defected the Syrian regime, spoke Tuesday. This is his first public statement since his defection on July 6.
The "New Syria" should not be "built on revenge, exclusion or monopoly," added the officer. He was presented as "a son of the Syrian Arab Army, which rejected the methods of this corrupt and criminal regime (...) and can not accept its crimes against the country".
The General refused to condemn soldiers and officers who have not defected, "whatever the mistakes made by certain members of the army".
Manaf Tlass, 48, a former close associate of President Bashar al-Assad, joined the opposition amid the brutal crackdown by the regime and the destruction of Rastane, his family hometown, near Homs.
Meanwhile, Syrian forces have fired late Tuesday night artillery and rockets against the town of Al-Tel, north of Damascus. This town is held by the insurgents. Hundreds of panicked families fled the scene.
Al-Tel, which is located eight kilometers north of the capital, was taken by the Syrian insurgents last week, after the outbreak of the "Battle of Damascus."
Meanwhile, heavy fighting between Syrian army and rebels broke out early Wednesday in Aleppo, the second largest city and economic heart of Syria, reported the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR).
Seven people, including six civilians have been killed in violence Wednesday, according to a preliminary assessment by SOHR. The day before, repression and fighting had left 158 dead. In Aleppo, clashes took place in the district of Kasr al-Bustan, in the south of the city. Other fighting broke out at dawn in other areas, including al-Jamiliye (center), near the seat of the ruling Baath Party.