Last Updated: Tue Jul 03, 2012 00:03 am (KSA) 21:03 pm (GMT)

Six Syrian army officers and 33 soldiers defect, arrive in Turkey: state TV

The number of fighters joining the Free Syrian Army has risen since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began last year. (Reuters)
The number of fighters joining the Free Syrian Army has risen since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began last year. (Reuters)

A Syrian general, two colonels, two majors, one lieutenant and 33 soldiers have defected from President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and arrived in Turkey, Turkish state television said on Monday, without giving any further details.

The private news channel CNN Turk also reported the defections of the soldiers, but said they had arrived with members of their families, making a total of 224 individuals.

A government official, however, said the group included three colonels and there was no general among them. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government rules, did not know the overall number of defectors and the two accounts could not immediately be reconciled.

On Sunday, three additional Syrian military pilots have defected to Jordan, according to Al Arabiya’s correspondent in Amman.

“The three pilots have entered Jordan in an illegal way and they are currently held by the Jordanian security authorities who are taking them through the regular routine procedures” said Al Arabiya’s Ghassan Abu Louz quoting sources within Syrian opposition.

One of the three pilots was a Lieutenant Colonel who managed to bring in his family to Jordan today as well, according to the correspondent. The other two pilots were both colonels and were believed to have also brought in their families from Syria, he said.

Four other Syrian military officials have entered Jordan since last Thursday following the defection of the colonel Hassan Marei Hamada who landed his Meg21 plane inside the Hashemite Kingdom.

The Syrian Defense Ministry had branded Hamada a “traitor” and had said that it was in contact with Jordanian authorities to retrieve the aircraft.

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