A Syrian MiG 21 fighter jet made an emergency landing Thursday at the King Hussein air base in Mafraq 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.
“The pilot asked for political asylum in Jordan,” Jordanian Information Minister and government spokesman Samih Maayatah told AFP.
Jordanian military sources told AFP news that Jordanian air force jets accompanied the Syrian plane when it entered Jordan's airspace. The pilot talked to the control tower as a sign of goodwill.
The official Syrian Arab News Agency"SANA" identified the pilot as Col. Hassan Mirel al-Hamadeh and said he was on a training mission near the border with Jordan when all communications were lost at 10:34 a.m.
The Free Syrian Army claimed in a statement to the Associated Press that its group had encouraged the pilot to defect, according to spokesman Ahmad Kassem.
According to Al-arabiya 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.”
In a related development regarding Syrian issue, a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry denies sending weapons to the regime that could be used to suppress anti-government protests while Washington denies arming the opposition.
Secretary of State gunship helicopters to President Assad's forces. Russia then replied that it had only repaired them in accordance to contracts signed before the crisis.also accused Moscow last week of delivering
The New York Times, however, reported on Thursday that the CIA monitors Turkish arms shipments to the rebels to ensure they do not fall into the hands of Al Qaeda.
The U.S. daily, citing U.S. officials and members of Arab intelligence services, said that the weapons delivered to the rebels are purchased by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar and shipped across the border by a network of Syrian opposition activists.
The deliveries include automatic rifles, grenade launchers, ammunition and some anti-tank weapons that allowed the rebels to resist the government forces. The newspaper quoted U.S. officials as saying the U.S. could increase aid to the rebels by providing satellite photos and other sensitive information.
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Jordanian government spokesman Samih Maaytah told AFP news that Jordan has granted political asylum to a defecting Syrian pilot hours after he landed with his Russian-made MiG jet at a military air base in the kingdom,Al-arabiya news reported.
According to the Syrian state news agency SANA, the Syrian ministry of defense said the pilot is considered a deserter and a traitor to his country, and to his military honor, and he will be punished under military rules.
The ministry said that they have contacted the Jordanian authorities side to get the plane back.