Syrian Pilot Defects in His MiG
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
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.