NATO meetup tomorrow as more defect from Syria

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Parts of wreckage of the Turkish reconnaissance plane shot down by Syria three days ago was found by search teams from Turkey and Syria. Reports are that it was found in international waters.

Turkey is a NATO member and the Article 4 - Consultation meeting that Turkey has called for is scheduled to take place tomorrow. It is significant that Turkey did not call for the meeting under the much stronger Article 5, which would have indicated that it was seeking an armed response. It is also important that no one is calling the plane shoot down an act of war.

Meanwhile more defections from Assad's side.

Seven Syrian army officers and 33 soldiers defected to Turkey yesterday. Al Jazeera English is reporting:

Syria officers and troops defect to Turkey

Turkish media says 33 members of the Syrian army, including a general and two colonels, have arrived in the country.

Turkey's state-run news agency says 33 more members of the Syrian military have defected to Turkey with their families at a time of heightened tensions between the two countries over Syria's downing of a Turkish plane.

The Anadolu agency said on Monday that the group, which includes a general and two colonels, crossed into Turkey overnight and that they were being hosted at a refugee camp near the border.

The defection brought to 13 the number of generals seeking refuge in Turkey since the revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime erupted 16 months ago.

Thousands of soldiers have abandoned the army, but most are low-level conscripts. The Free Syrian Army, the loosely-linked group of rebel forces, is made up largely of defectors.

The Sun Daily is reporting:

ANKARA (June 25, 2012): Another general has fled to Turkey from neighbouring Syria and joined the swelling ranks of rebel soldiers based close to the border, the Anatolia news agency reported on Monday.

The defection brought to 13 the number of generals seeking refuge in Turkey since the revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime erupted 16 months ago.

In addition to the general, two colonels and some 30 soldiers accompanied by their families -- making a total of 196 individuals who crossed into Turkey late on Sunday, along with 28 Syrians mostly women and children, said Anatolia.

The defectors, together with their families, were taken to Apaydin camp in Hatay province, some four kilometres from the border with Syria. And 28 Syrians were taken to another camp in Sanliurfa province near the border.

On Al Jazeera English TV this morning reporter Anita McNaught assures us that even bigger defections are in the pipeline that haven't been announced yet.

In Other area news:

The Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohammed Morsi, is named the winner of Egypt's recent presidential run off Sunday.

Tunisia has extradited ex-Qaddafi PM Baghdadi al-Mahmudi back to Libya for trial, he became the first senior Qaddafi official to be returned to Libya.

1:56 PM PT: Thanks to several Kossacks who noted this in the comments, we now have reports of the Syrians firing on a second Turkish plane. This one was searching for the first plane and pilots. From Reuters we have this breaking story:

Syrian forces fire at 2nd Turkish plane - Turkey
Mon, 25 Jun 2012 17:19 GMT

Turkey said on Monday that Syrian forces had fired at a second Turkish plane which was searching for an F-4 reconnaissance jet shot down by Syria last week, but the second plane was not brought down.

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told a news conference that Turkey would protect itself, within the framework of international law, against what it called Syria's "hostile action" of downing its warplane last week.

He said at the end of a seven-hour cabinet meeting on the incident that Syria's downing of the reconnaissance jet would "not go unpunished". (Writing by Jon Hemming; Editing by Michael Roddy)

And AP has this story:

Syria fires on second Turkish plane
5:37 AM Tuesday Jun 26, 2012

Turkey says Syria has fired on a second Turkish plane in what is now an escalating situation. The second plane was a search and rescue plane searching for the military jet downed earlier last week.

Syria's downing of the Turkish military jet has the feel of a turning point that could drag Western powers into a conflict that is spiraling out of control.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has vowed to hold Syria to account, while Britain's foreign minister said Damascus won't be allowed to act with impunity.

But for all the hard talk, the prospect of Western military intervention in Syria remains remote, at best.

2:23 PM PT: Now we have this report from the Telegraph of a Senior Syria general deserting his desert command and defecting. I don't know if this is from the group of Syrian officers discussed above or an entirely new defection:

Syria general deserts senior command in Damascus
Syria's regime suffered its highest-ranking military defection when a general escaped into Turkey after deserting a senior command in Damascus.
By Ruth Sherlock, Hatay province, Turkey and Adrian Blomfield 8:00PM BST 25 Jun 2012

The officer, who has promised to disclose his identity in the coming days, was accompanied by a colonel and at least 20 other soldiers. While other generals have deserted, he is believed to be the most senior yet to have abandoned the regime.
The general fled into Turkey during the course of Sunday night, arriving yesterday morning. Mustafa al-Sheikh, head of the FSA military council, said the general had travelled all the way from Damascus where he was "responsible for a large ammunitions store". Mr Sheikh added: "It remains under the control of the Syrian army but he was able to escape".

He spoke inside Apaydin camp in Turkey's Hatay province, where the general is believed to have been taken. This base, heavily guarded by the Turkish army, was set up specifically for defecting Syrian officers and their families.

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