Clinton plea as Assad aide defects
The defection of Gen Tlass, a member of the elite Republican Guards and a son of a former defence minister, is the first major crack in the upper reaches of Assad's regime, which has remained largely cohesive throughout the uprising.
He has not spoken publicly since his defection and his whereabouts remain unknown, though French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced that the general was en route to France, where his sister lives. Mr Fabius later backtracked, saying he was not sure of Gen Tlass' final destination.
The gathering in France's capital aimed to win wider support for a Syrian transition plan unveiled last week by UN mediator Kofi Annan. Joined by America's allies, Mrs Clinton called for "real and immediate consequences for non-compliance, including sanctions," against the Assad regime.
But with neither Moscow nor Beijing in attendance, much remained dependent on persuading the two reluctant UN veto-wielding powers to force Mr Assad into abiding by a ceasefire and the transition strategy. Mrs Clinton urged governments around the world to direct their pressure toward Russia and China as well.
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