BEIRUT

Middle East

Syrian general among more than 1,000 refugees flee to Turkey

ANKARA: Some 1,137 Syrians, including a defecting general, have fled to Turkey amid the escalating violence in the strife-torn Syria, the Anatolia news agency reported Tuesday.

The latest group brought the number of Syrian refugees in Turkey to nearly 50,000.

The defecting general was accompanied by 12 officers and 25 injured Syrians, Anatolia said.

Turkish officials declined to give the exact number of defected generals currently in Turkey, saying that some have been going back across the border to join in the fight against Bashar Assad's regime.

They are estimated to be more than 20.

General Muhammed Ahmed Faris, a military aviator who became the first Syrian in space, fled to Turkey on Sunday after defecting from Assad's regime.

Senior Syrian officers have been crossing into Turkey to link up with the rebel Free Syrian Army on a near daily basis in recent months, often accompanied by rank-and-file troops.

In addition to taking in refugees, Turkey is also sheltering Syrian military defectors in a separate camp near the border where security is tighter.

 

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