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Syrian Pilot Defects in His MiG

Posted on Jun 21, 2012
FreedomHouse (CC BY 2.0)

A Syrian fighter pilot landed his MiG-21 at Jordan’s King Hussein military base Thursday morning after abandoning a training exercise. His defection is believed to be the first involving a Syrian military aircraft since the uprising began 16 months ago.

The event will complicate Syrian-Jordanian relations. Jordan has received upward of 125,000 Syrian refugees, including military and police officials whom the Syrian government have asked to be returned. The countries did an estimated $470 million in trade in 2011 and, lacking access to the Mediterranean, Jordan is dependent on routes through Syria for exports.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly

BBC:

The Russian-made MiG-21 landed at the King Hussein Air Base in Mafraq, close to the Syrian border, officials said.

It is believed to be the first such defection by a Syrian pilot with his plane.

A spokesman for the rebel Free Syrian Army, Ahmad Kassem, said the group had encouraged the pilot to defect, the Associated Press news agency reported.

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