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Syrian Air Force Pilot Defects To Jordan

Landed In The Kingdom In His MiG-21 Fighter

A Syrian air force pilot is apparently seeking political asylum in the Kingdom of Jordan, having landed there after flying a training mission in a MiG-21 fighter (Indian Air Force aircraft pictured).

The Syrian news agency SANA reported early Thursday morning (ET) that the air force had lost contact with the pilot during his training mission. They identified the pilot as Col. Hassan Mirei al-Hamadeh. The flight reportedly originated at the al-Dumair military airport northeast of Damascus.

According to a report in USA Today, the Jordan Times quoted military sources who said the plane was met by Royal Jordanian air force fighters as soon as it crossed into Jordanian airspace. It was escorted to King Hussein Air Base northwest of the capital of Amman.

The plane landed at 1045 local time. Reuters reports that the pilot was being debriefed and that the government was considering his request.

A Syrian rebel group said it had encouraged the pilot to defect, according to the Associated Press. Syrian military air crews have refrained from attacking rebels since an uprising began against Syrian President Bashar Assad in March of 2011.

FMI: www.kinghussein.gov.jo/jordan.html

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