A Syrian pilot sought asylum after landing his MiG fighter jet in neighboring Jordan on Thursday, in the first such air force defection in a 15-month revolt against President Bashar al Assad's regime.
"The pilot asked for political asylum in Jordan," information minister and government spokesman Samih Maayatah confirmed, after a government source said the MiG-21 had made an emergency landing at an air base in Mafraq in northern Jordan, near the Syria border.
Syria's state TV said the warplane, flown by Colonel Hassan Merei al Hamade, was flying near the southern border when contact was lost around 07:34am GMT, and Jordan's armed forces said it landed across the frontier minutes later.
Tens of thousands of soldiers have defected from Syria's armed forces since a revolt erupted in March last year, thousands of them joining the rebel Free Syrian Army, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The conflict in Syria has killed more than 15,000 people since the uprising against Assad's regime broke out in March 2011, according to the Observatory's latest overall toll.
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