BREAKING: Syria fighter pilot defects

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In an incident that is reminiscent of the break up of the Mummar Qaddafi regime in Libya, Al Jazeera English is reporting at this hour that the pilot who landed his Syria Mig 21 warplane in Jordan earlier today is now asking for asylum in Jordan.

While we have seen widespread reports of Assad using his combat helicopters, like the ones being returned to him from Russia, against Syrian civilians, I have seen no reports of Syria using its fighter jets in that matter, but according to Libyan pilots that deflected last year, it was Qaddafi's orders that they attack protesters that triggered those deflections. AFP reported 2 hours ago:

"The pilot asked for political asylum in Jordan," Information Minister Samih Maayatah told AFP, after a government official said the MiG-21 had made an emergency landing at a base in Mafraq in northern Jordan, near Syria.

Syria's state television said the warplane, flown by Colonel Hassan Merei al-Hamade, was flying near the border when contact was lost around 0734 GMT, and Jordan said it landed across the frontier minutes later.

It is too early to know why this Syrian pilot has deflected, indeed, his name has become public only minutes ago. But it would seem to support my thesis that, in spite of the reported widespread use of summary execution of Syrian soldiers who refuse to slaughter their own countryman, Assad is finding that his own army is increasingly unreliable with defections to the Free Syrian Army on the rise. When the US found that they could not rely on Vietnamese puppet troops to conduct its war against Vietnam, it was forced send in its own soldiers in increasing numbers. When Mummar Qaddafi's Libyan forces started to fail him, he was force to rely on mercenaries, including ones from Russia. Is there a relationship between these growing reports of Syrian deflections and reports of foreign fighters from Russia and possibly other countries heading to Syria to support Assad?

These fast breaking development come after Homs, among other places, faced another day of heavy shelling of civilian areas by Assad's killers and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said today that more than 15,000 have been killed in the Syrian conflict.

Also, this morning, the Russian Foreign minister confirms that a ship is head for Syria with 3 repaired helicopters. Like I was saying.

A report just came in that Jordan has given the pilot asylum. More links to new on this below the fold.

Al Arabiya News seems to have more details than anyone else at this hour:

Syrian state television named the pilot as Colonel Hassan Hamada, saying communications were lost with his plane while he was on a training mission near the border with Jordan.

Hamada asked for political asylum in Jordan, Maaytah said earlier on Thursday.

“The Syrian air force Russian-made MiG made an emergency landing at the King Hussein air base in Mafraq,” in northern Jordan near the border with Syria.

“[The pilot] is being debriefed at the moment,” Maaytah had told Reuters.

Syrian state television said communication was lost with a plane of the same model at 10:34 a.m.

The Syrian National Council along with activists had claimed the pilot had defected prior to confirmation of the news.

Georges Sabra, spokesman for the SNC told AFP: “The plane took off at high speed and flew at low altitude from a military base situated between Daraa and Sweida in the south of the country. These planes usually fly in twos or threes, not alone.

“It is certain that the pilot has defected,” he added. “It is not normal that a jet should take off at such speed. It is to avoid detection by the radars.”

He added that the pilot is from Deir Ezzor (in eastern Syria) “and his family is known for its opposition” to Assad’s regime.

Activists said this was the first defection involving an aircraft since the start of the 15-month-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

From UPI:

AMMAN, Jordan, June 21 (UPI) -- A Syrian air force pilot flew his MiG-21 fighter to Jordan Thursday and asked for political asylum, Jordanian officials said.

"The jet fighter landed at 10:45 a.m. and the government is currently considering the pilot's request," Samih Maaytah, the Jordanian Minister of Media Affairs and Communication, told The Jordan Times. Maaytah said the pilot landed the jet at the Mafraq air base.

AJC also had an early report from AP:

AMMAN, Jordan — A Syrian fighter pilot on a training mission flew his MiG-21 warplane to Jordan on Thursday and asked for political asylum, the first defection of an air force pilot with his plane during the 15-month uprising against President Bashar Assad.

According to the Iranian PressTV: ‘Syria has had no defections and the a country mostly united’

The first day of Summer in Syria.

North of Homs, shells can be heard whistling in before exploding in al Rastan June 21, 2012

Here are my related diaries:
BREAKING: Britain stops Russian ship carrying attack helicopters for Syria
BREAKING: Britain stops Russian ship carrying attack helicopters for Syria
BREAKING: Russian troops headed to Syria
Qaddafi forces Strike Back in Libya
BREAKING: UN suspends mission in Syria
Libya & Syria - two videos - no comment
BREAKING: Russia denies supplying Syria with NEW attack helicopters
Syrian people rise up against the massacre
Another "Houla style" massacre in Syria
Fake Houla Massacre Photo: Was the BBC set up?
Idlib, Syria protest today on anniversary of Kent State killings
BREAKING: Massive protests in Syria following Friday pray
Syria is bleeding
Syria: Ceasefire faltering as mass protests breakout

Sat Jun 23, 2012 at 8:31 AM PT: