Members Of Syrian Military Defect To Turkey

In a possible sign that support for Bashar Assad may be crumbling, a group of Syrian Army soldiers, including officers, has defected to Turkey:

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Dozens of Syrian soldiers defected overnight to Turkey, crossing the border with their families as tensions between the two countries soared three days after Syrian forces shot down a Turkish military plane.

The state-run Anadolu news agency said 33 soldiers defected, including a general and two colonels. But a Turkish government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government rules, said the group included three colonels and there was no general.

The two accounts could not immediately be reconciled.

Thousands of soldiers have abandoned the Syrian regime, but most are low-level conscripts. The rebel Free Syrian Army — which is based in Turkey — is made up largely of defectors.

If this is a sign of more widespread discontent in the military, then Assad may have a problem on his hands.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook