Three additional Syrian military pilots have defected to Jordan earlier today; bringing up the total number of defected Syrian pilots to seven, according to Al-Arabiya’s Amman correspondent.
“The three pilots have entered Jordan in an illegal way and they are currently held by the Jordanian security authorities who are taking them through the regular routine procedures” said Al-Arabiya’s Ghassan Abu Louz quoting sources within Syrian opposition.
According Abu Louz, one of the three pilots is a Lieutenant Colonel who managed to bring in his family to Jordan today as well. The other two pilots are both colonels and are said to have also brought in their families from Syria.
Four other Syrian military officials have entered Jordan since last Thursday following the defection of the colonel Hassan Marei Hamada who landed his Meg21 plane inside the Hashemite Kingdom
The Syrian Defense Ministry branded Hamada a “traitor” and said that it was in contact with Jordanian authorities to retrieve the aircraft.
“The pilot is considered a deserter from service and a traitor to his country and his military honor. Contacts are underway with the Jordanian side to make arrangements to return the plane,” a statement by the ministry said.
For his part, Bassam Aldadah, political advisor of the Syrian Free Army, has confirmed the news to Al- Arabiya from the Turkish-Syrian borders saying, “These defecting pilots have followed the hero commander colonel Hamada without their planes” adding that they three additional pilots made into Jordan on foot.
“The three pilots who have broken off from their Deir Al-Zour-based battalions to join the Syrian Free Army” he added.
A commander in the Free Syrian Army confirmed to the Egyptian Al Ahram newspaper that the defecting officer said the numbers of government troops who fled are expected to double.