By Douglas Holtz-Eakin
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Syria's most prominent defector said in an interview that aired Monday that he opposes any foreign military intervention in the country's civil war and that he is confident the opposition can topple President Bashar Assad's regime.
The death toll from a car bomb in Syria's largest city has risen to 30, state media said Monday, as the new international envoy to the country said the Syrian people are desperate to see peace and stability.
One of Syria's most prominent defectors has been touring regional powers to seek support for the uprising, but many in the opposition are deeply suspicious of the handsome former general, a longtime friend of President Bashar Assad with a taste for expensive cigars.
Syria's most prominent defector is promoting himself as someone to unite the fractured opposition as the disparate factions were set to gather in Qatar Thursday to try to agree on a transitional leadership if Syrian President Bashar Assad is toppled.
Syria's highest-ranking diplomat to defect to the opposition has dismissed the main international plan seeking to stop the violence, saying nothing short of President Bashar Assad's departure is acceptable.
A top Syrian general's defection is the first major crack in the upper echelons of President Bashar Assad's regime, buoying a 100-nation conference Friday meant to intensify pressure for his removal, as well as an opposition desperate to bring him down but frustrated by diplomatic efforts.
Gen. Tlass called on outside powers to give the opposition "all the aid and support" needed to topple Mr. Assad.
"The Syrian people must not be robbed of their victory. They must be given support, aid, arms," he told the French television station BFM.