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Jordan grants political asylum to pilot, Arab League pushes for Anan Plan

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Jordan accepted on Thursday to grant political asylum to the pilot of a Syrian MiG 21 fighter jet that had earlier defected to Jordan.

The pilot  who flew his plane to Jordan on Thursday asked for political asylum on landing, Jordanian Minister of State for Information Samih al-Maaytah said.
"He requested political asylum in Jordan. He is being debriefed at the moment," Maaytah told Reuters.
Syrian state television named the pilot as Colonel Hassan Hamada, saying communications were lost with his plane while he was on a training mission near the border with Jordan.  

In this context, the Syrian Defense Ministry said the pilot who defected to Jordan is a “traitor”, confirming that it is in contact with Amman to retrieve the plane. 

This as the Arab League called on Russia to stop providing the Syrian regime with weapons. For its part, Russia stated via its Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that the ship headed to Syria was carrying three repaired helicopters.


Lavrov stressed that "any peace plan calling for the ousting of Assad is inapplicable".

Deputy Secretary-General of the Arab League Ambassador Ahmed Ben Helli told the Russian Interfax agency that all means to violence must be stopped, adding that when military equipment is sent to Syria, it aids in the killings.                        

On the other hand, Syria’s permanent representative to the U.N. Bashar Jaafari accused some parties of trying to fuel the Syrian crisis, adding that some members of the Security Council who have bet on the failure of Kofi Annan’s plan from the beginning, are trying to divert the mission of international observers from peace enforcing to imposing a no-fly/buffer zone onto Syria.  

For his part, Pope Benedict XVI called for the immediate cessation of hostilities leading to blood shed in Syria.  The pope warned that continuous violence may lead to irreparable repercussions on the country and on the region.                  

On the field, the central city of Homs was heavily shelled Thursday morning by regime forces, according to activists.                          

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that fierce clashes erupted in Idlib after a bloody day that killed 88 people. The Observatory added that a sum of 15,000 victims have so far fallen since the start of the uprising. This as Syrian State TV said that an explosive ordinance targeted a police convoy accompanying an Italian media crew. The blast killed military personnel but did not injure any of the media crew members.                 

The day also witnessed burial ceremonies and rallies calling for the rule of Assad to come to an end.       

Later it was reported that the ICRC and the Syrian Red Crescent teams were forced to turn back from the old city of Homs during early hours of the morning, due to ongoing shooting. The ICRC and the Syrian Red Crescent will attempt to back into Homs neighborhoods to evacuate the wounded and the sick.

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