Syrian general said to defect to Turkey

Associated Press
Turkish coast guard searches for the Turkish warplane which was downed by Syria on Friday off Samandagi in Hatay province in the eastern Mediterranean, Sunday, June 24, 2012. Turkey would seek the meeting over article 4 of the NATO charter concerning Friday's incident. The article says member countries "will consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the parties is threatened." (AP Photo)
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BEIRUT (AP) — A Turkish Foreign Ministry official says a Syrian brigadier general defected to Turkey in recent days. If confirmed, it would be one of the highest level defections from the regime since the Syrian uprising began in March 2011.

Thousands of soldiers have defected from the Syrian regime, but most are low-level conscripts. The rebel Free Syrian Army, whose leadership is based in Turkey, is made up largely of defectors who want to bring down President Bashar Assad's regime by force of arms.

The Turkish official asked that his name not be used because he is not authorized to speak publicly.

Brig. Gen. Mostafa Ahmad al-Sheik, who fled to Turkey in January, was the highest ranking officer to bolt at the time.

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Fraser reported from Ankara, Turkey.

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