Syrian fighter pilot defects to Jordan

A Syrian MiG 21 fighter jet landed made an emergency landing at a northern Jordanian airbase.

Zeenews Bureau

Damascus: A Syrian MiG 21 fighter jet landed at a northern Jordanian airbase on Thursday.

The pilot has asked for political asylum, the BBC quoted officials in Amman as saying.

Confirming the incident, Information Minister and government spokesman Samih Maaytah told a news agency that the Syrian pilot has asked for political asylum in Jordan.

According to opposition activists also, the pilot has defected. If so, it would be the first defection involving an aircraft since the start of a 15-month-old uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Earlier in the day, the Syrian authorities had lost contact with the Russian-made MiG-21 fighter jet while it was on a training flight, state-run SANA news agency reported.

SANA quoted a source from the authorities as saying that the fighter jet was flown by Colonel Hasan Hammadeh in the south of Syria, adding that the authorities lost contact when it was close to the border with Jordan at about 10:30 am (0730 GMT).

According to a Jordanian government official, MiG-21 has landed at the King Hussein Air Base in Mafraq, a north Jordanian town near the Syrian border.

He declined to provide other details. Two other officials gave similar accounts.

All three spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the matter.

(With Agency inputs)