Three high-ranking Syrian military officials have defected to neighboring Turkey along with several soldiers amid heightened tension between the two countries over Syria's downing of a Turkish warplane.
An Army General, two Colonels and 30 other soldiers have entered Turkey, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Monday quoting Turkish officials.
Turkish Authorities said the Army defectors along with their family members were sent to a camp in Apaydin town of the southern Hatay province on Sunday night. Over 33,000 people have fled violence in Syria and they have been provided shelter at camps along Turkey's border with that country, the report said.
Tensions between the two countries have escalated over Syria's downing of a Turkish F-4 jet in the Mediterranean off the Syrian coast. Search was still on to trace the two pilots missing after Friday's incident which had provoked Turkey prompting it to urge the NATO to convene an emergency meeting to discuss the issue concerning its national security.
The Turkish Cabinet is due to discuss the crisis late on Monday, a day before NATO envoys in Brussels meet to consider their response. Turkey has invoked Article 4 of NATO's charter, under which consultations can be requested when an ally feels its security is threatened.
Turkey has openly supported the Opposition-backed Free Syria Army largely made up of defectors. Turkey claims that 12 high-ranking Syrian military officials have defected to the country. Last week a Syrian Air Force pilot was granted political asylum after he landed his warplane in Jordan.
According to the United Nations, more than 10,000 people have been killed in Syria since an uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad broke out 15 months ago. Assad came to power in the Arab country eleven years ago after the death of his father Hafez al-Assad who ruled the Middle East country more than three decades often suppressing dissent.
by RTT Staff Writer
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