A top general who recently defected from the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria has established contacts with the opposition, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.
Brig. Gen. Manaf Tlas, a commander in the powerful Republican Guard, fled last week and was reported to be on his way to Paris to join his 80-year-old father Mustafa, who served as Syrian defence minister for 32 years, and sister. His present whereabouts are unknown.
"I know the opposition and this general have approached each other and contact has been made," Fabius said in Paris Thursday.
Experts believe the highest profile defection since the start of the uprising against the Assad regime in 2011 marks the first crack in Assad's inner circle and may encourage other top-ranking Syrian officials to follow suit.
Meanwhile, the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) has declared that international diplomacy had failed to solve the Syrian crisis, and revolution is the only way to end more than a year of bloodshed in the country.
Over 13,000 people have been killed in clashes between opposition forces and troops loyal to Assad in 17 months of bloodshed, according to Syrian rights groups quoted by the UN.