Syria Air Force Colonel Defects to Jordan

A Syrian colonel flew to Jordan Thursday and was granted political asylum, becoming the first air force pilot to defect with his plane in the 15-month uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad, MSNBC reported. The pilot, identified as Hassan Merei Hammadeh, took off his air force tag and kneeled on the ground in prayer after landing, a Jordanian official said. A spokesman for the rebel Free Syrian Army said the group had encouraged the pilot’s defection. The move complicates relations between Syria and Jordan, which has accepted 125,000 Syrian refugees but has maintained business ties with Syria. Syrian troops have so far not used military warplanes against rebels, MSNBC reported. In other developments, the International Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday its aid workers were forced to turn back from a mission to evacuate wounded and sick civilians in Homs, despite a humanitarian truce agreed upon by rebels and Syrian forces.

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