Inside Syria - Syria: Abandoning the sinking ship?

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Western diplomats have hailed the defection of one of Syria's top generals as a sign that government elites are abandoning Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president.

Brigadier General Manaf Tlas is thought to be the most senior military defector yet in the Syrian crisis. He is the son of a former Syrian defence minister and member of one of the country's most powerful Sunni families. He is also a close friend of President al-Assad, which is seen as an embarrassment to the government.
Tlas is just the latest official to cut ties with Assad - at least one deputy minister and 15 generals have defected to Turkey.
The defection of Tlas offered some welcome news at the latest Friends of Syria meeting on Friday.

Representatives from more than 100 countries gathered in Paris, calling for more pressure on Assad and promising to "massively increase" aid to Syria's anti-government fighters.

But in what has become a hallmark of the Friends of Syria meetings, little progress was made on how to end the deadlock over the crisis.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, pushed for broader support for a new Kofi Annan plan that would transfer powers from Assad to an interim government.

She also called for a UN Security Council resolution that would make the plan enforcable. But that remains unlikely without support from Russia and China, both of which hold vetos and who were absent from the Paris meeting.

Is there a rift within Assad's inner circle? How does the opposition benefit from the defection? And what can the international community do to end the crisis?

Inside Syria, with presenter Folly Bah Thibault, discusses the significance of this defection as well as the ratcheting up of efforts to end Syria's ongoing crisis with guests: Akil Hashem, a former Brigadier General in the Syrian Army; Yasser Tabbara, a member of the Syrian National Council; and Nikolaos van Dam, a Middle East scholar and former Dutch ambassador, who has also written several books including The struggle for power in Syria: Sectarianism, regionalism, and tribalism in politics.

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