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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

France Urges Syrian Troops to Defect

RIA Novosti

19:52 22/06/2012 PARIS, June 22 (RIA Novosti) – France urges Syrian military personnel to follow the example of fighter pilot Hassan Hammadeh and defect, Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said.

Hammadeh, a colonel in the Syrian air force, landed his MiG-21 fighter jet in Jordan on Thursday and requested political asylum, which has been granted.

Hammadeh is the first pilot to defect with his aircraft since anti-government protests in Syria began more than a year ago.

But he joins a growing list of defectors from the Syrian armed forces. Their actions “deserve our gratitude and the gratitude of the Syrian people,” Valero said.

According to UN estimates, about 12,000 people have been killed in Syria since the beginning of a popular uprising against President Assad in March 2011.

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