Where did he defect from, the spa? In this 2011 picture, 47-year-old Gen. Manf Tlass looks like a Belgian TV star trying to hustle a movie deal at Cannes by renting a yacht slightly bigger than he can actually afford, what with how much he has to pay daily to have his hair carefully tousled. From Wikipedia:
Tlass was born in Rastan in 1964. He is the son of former Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass. His family was the most famous Sunni family in Syria, known for supporting the Alawite-dominated regime.
Over the years, I have had a hard time paying attention to Syrian politics because I get distracted by how the players look. The current dictator is kind of an odd-looking Will-Ferrell-plays-Inspector-Clouseau-type, and his father, the previous dictator, looked like a Wisconsin high school principal.
One theory -- I heard it from J.P. Rushton -- is that ruling castes tend to get fairer over the generations because powerful men use their power to marry fair wives. That's likely true of the current First Lady of Syria, but I can't recall if anybody has systematically investigated this idea.