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Then-Col. Bashar Assad (left) and Manaf Tlass in 1999. Tlass, now a brigadier general, has reportedly defected and is headed to France.
Raed Qutena /AFP/Getty Images
July 6, 2012 Brig. Gen. Manaf Tlass and his family have been close to the Assads for decades. He is the most prominent member of the Syrian military to part ways with the regime since anti-Assad protests began in March 2011.
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