Syrian Pilot Defects to Jordan

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- A Syrian Air Force pilot defected to Jordan Thursday morning.

Jordanian officials said he landed his MiG-21 fighter jet at the King Hussein Airbase, 50 miles northeast of Amman, and asked for political asylum.

It's the first defection with an aircraft since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime began more than 15 months ago.
 
Syrian state television said Col. Hassan Hamada was on a training mission near the Jordanian border when communications with his plane were lost at 10:34 a.m. Hamada landed the fighter at 11:00 a.m., according to a Jordanian security official.

Relations between the two countries are already strained. Thousands of Syrians have been fleeing to Jordan to escape reprisals against the uprising.

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