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Tuesday
Jun262012

High-Ranking Syrian Military Officers Defect to Turkey

Alessio Romenzi/AFP/Getty Images(ANKARA, Turkey) -- Turkey is still furious with Syria for shooting down one of its fighter jets last Friday, but it is more than glad to accept Syrian military defectors.

In the latest sign that there's trouble within the ranks, a Syrian general, two colonels, two majors, one lieutenant and 33 soldiers have sought asylum in Turkey, according to state TV there.

Another report says that many of the soldiers brought family members with them, making at least 224 people who are looking to escape the violence in their country.

Until now, most military members who have left Syria have been low-level defectors.

The current group was brought to a refugee camp in the Turkish province of Hatay.  All told, there are an estimated 33,000 Syrians now living in Turkey, who have fled the 16-month-long government crackdown that one group claims has cost more than 15,000 lives.

Meanwhile, Turkey awaits a response from NATO members meeting in Brussels on Tuesday about the downing of a F-4 plane in which two pilots were lost.  Ankara claims Syria shot down the aircraft over international waters without provocation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio