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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Over 30 Syrian Army Defectors Escape to Turkey

RIA Novosti

16:24 25/06/2012

MOSCOW, July 25 (RIA Novosti) - Thirty-three Syrian army defectors have fled into Turkey overnight, the Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Monday, quoting officials.

The defectors, including a general and two colonels, and their family members were sent to a camp in Apaydin, in the southern Hatay province, the report added.

More than 33,000 Syrians have fled into Turkey since violence broke out in Syria last March as the government cracked down on a popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) said.

According to UN estimates, some 10,000 people have been killed in clashes between government troops and opposition forces which have grown increasingly militarized.

Tensions between former allies Turkey and Syria have risen dramatically after Syria downed a Turkish military jet which it said had violated Syria’s airspace last week.

Turkey said the plane, which was on a training flight to test Turkey's radar capabilities, had unintentionally crossed into Syria's air space, but was inside international airspace when it was shot down.

Turkey has called a meeting of NATO member states on Tuesday to discuss the incident.

Thousands of soldiers, mainly low-level conscripts, have defected from the Syrian regime to join the Free Syrian Army, a loose alliance of rebel forces fighting to oust Assad from power.

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