Clinton hails defection of Syria military official

Associated Press
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, right, speaks with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius during a meeting , in Paris, Friday July 6, 2012. Syrian opposition leaders are pressing diplomats at an international conference for a no-fly zone over Syria, but the U.S. and its European and Arab partners are expected to focus on economic sanctions instead. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

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PARIS (AP) — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is hailing the defection of top military officials in President Bashar Assad's inner circle as the United States and its international allies seek global sanctions against his regime.

Western officials reported top Assad aide Brig. Gen. Manaf Tlass's defection Friday.

Clinton referred only to reports of Tlass' departure but cited an "increasing stream of senior military defectors."

She tells reporters that "regime insiders and the military establishment are starting to vote with their feet."

She says this shows that "those with the closest knowledge of Assad's actions and crimes are moving away. We think that's a very promising development. It also raises questions for those remaining in Damascus, who are still supporting this regime."

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