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News Link • Syria

Syria officers and troops 'defect to Turkey'


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.

Anadolu 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 Syria Army, the loosely linked group of rebel forces, is made up largely of defectors.

Turkey, once a close ally of Syria, summoned an emergency NATO meeting for Tuesday after accusing Damascus of shooting down one of its military planes in international airspace.

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