Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

Burundi's brutal standoff: One month on, tension spirals (part 1)

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

All work and no play

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Mexican taxi drivers protest over rise of Uber

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Dance like nobody's watching!

Read more

DEBATE

Burundi's Brutal Standoff: One month on tension spirals (part 2)

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Masoud Barzani: 'We are prepared to recover Mosul very quickly'

Read more

FOCUS

Lebanon marks one year without a president

Read more

REPORTERS

A year after coup, Thai opposition resists junta rule

Read more

REPORTERS

Are there lessons to be learned from Chirac’s foreign policy?

Read more

Middle east

Syrian air force pilot seeks asylum in Jordan

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-06-21

A Syrian air force pilot landed his jet in Jordan on Thursday and asked for asylum, Jordanian officials have said. The defection deals a blow to President al-Assad but also threatened to highten tensions between the two countries.

REUTERS - A Syrian air force pilot defected to Jordan on Thursday, landing his MiG-21 jet fighter at a military airbase and asking for political asylum, Jordanian officials said.

The defection is first involving an aircraft since the start of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad although thousands of soldiers have deserted from the Syrian army, whose ranks are mostly filled by members of the Sunni Muslim majority.

“He (the pilot) requested political asylum in Jordan. He is being debriefed at the moment,” Jordanian Minister of State for Information Samih al-Maaytah told Reuters.

A Jordanian security source said the pilot flew from al-Dumair military airport northeast of Damascus and landed at the at King Hussein Airbase at 11 a.m. (0800 GMT).

King Hussein Airbase, named after the country’s late monarch, is a military airport situated near the border with Syria, 80 kms (50 miles) northeast of the capital Amman.

Syrian state television named the pilot as Colonel Hassan Hamada and said communications were lost with his plane at 10:34 a.m. while he was on a training mission near the border with Jordan.

A Jordanian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described the defection as “difficult to handle”, referring to Amman’s nervousness over possible a Syrian military reaction after months of border tension between the two countries, ignited by thousands of Syrians fleeing a crackdown on the revolt to Jordan.

Date created : 2012-06-21

  • Syria

    Red Cross on standby as army shells Homs

    Read more

  • Syria

    UN observers committed to staying the course in Syria

    Read more

  • RUSSIA

    Russian 'arms' ship turns back from Syria, UK says

    Read more

COMMENT(S)