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Syria: Fighter pilot defects to Jordan

Syria: Fighter pilot defects to Jordan
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Jordan’s government has granted political asylum to a Syrian pilot who flew across the border to defect on Thursday morning.

It is the first defection involving an aircraft since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began 15 months ago.

Jordanian officials say he landed his Russian-made MIG-21 fighter jet at King Hussein military air base in Mafraq, close to the country’s northern border with Syria, and asked for political asylum.

Syrian state television confirmed that communication had been lost with a pilot, which it named as Colonel Hassan Merhi al-Hamade, while he was on a training mission near the border.

Meanwhile, amateur video purported to show continued heavy fighting in Homs. The old city has become the epicentre of clashes between Assad’s forces and rebel fighters and has seen particularly intense fighting over the last 10 days.

That means aid organisations such as the Red Cross and its Syrian partner, the Red Crescent, have been unable to enter to help the sick and wounded who are trapped on the battlefield.