News / Middle East

Syrian Fighter Pilot Defects in Jordan

A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency on December 20, 2011 shows a military aircraft take part in military maneuvers by the Syrian army in an undisclosed location in Syria.
A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency on December 20, 2011 shows a military aircraft take part in military maneuvers by the Syrian army in an undisclosed location in Syria.
VOA News
Jordan's information ministry says a Syrian fighter pilot has landed at a military base in Jordan and asked for political asylum, in a high-profile defection from the armed forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Syrian state media reported earlier Thursday that the military had lost contact Colonel Hassan al-Hamade while he was flying a Russian-made MiG-21 fighter jet on a training mission in the country's south.

It is believed to be the first Syrian military defection involving an aircraft.

The defection comes against the backdrop of continuing violence across Syria.  Residents and Syrian rights activists say two people were killed when government troops shelled Homs on Thursday, as aid teams from the International Committee of the Red Cross stood ready to evacuate trapped and wounded citizens from the city.

An amateur video released by the Shaam News Network purports to show smoke rising from buildings near a mosque in Homs, Syria, June 21, 2012.An amateur video released by the Shaam News Network purports to show smoke rising from buildings near a mosque in Homs, Syria, June 21, 2012.
x
An amateur video released by the Shaam News Network purports to show smoke rising from buildings near a mosque in Homs, Syria, June 21, 2012.
An amateur video released by the Shaam News Network purports to show smoke rising from buildings near a mosque in Homs, Syria, June 21, 2012.
Activists also reported shelling Thursday in the southern town of Inkhil, in Daraa province, that killed at least nine people.

The ICRC says both Syrian authorities and the opposition have agreed to its request for a temporary truce so the group can evacuate sick and wounded civilians from Homs and bring in much-needed medical supplies.  Hundreds of people are trapped by fighting in the central city's Sunni Muslim neighborhoods.

Homs has been at the center of the 15-month revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and became the focus of world concern in February and March, when opposition-held areas endured weeks of government bombardments and sniper fire, killing hundreds.

Rights activists said violence across the country Wednesday killed at least 53 people. Rami Abdelrahman, the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told VOA he fears Syria will become "the new Somalia or the new Afghanistan."

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

You May Like

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Activists for Peace Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified boarder, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs