26 Syrian Army Officers Defect to Turkey: Report

Twenty-six military officers from the Syrian army defected to Turkey overnight Thursday, marking the biggest mass desertion of senior soldiers from President Bashar al-Assad's forces, according to Turkish state media. Among the defected officers were two generals, 11 colonels, two lieutenant-colonels, two majors, four captains and five lieutenants, Reuters reported. The Anatolian news agency said the defectors crossed into Turkey's border province of Hatay along with their families and other foot soldiers, making it a total of 71 people. Also on Thursday, The Associated Press reported a Turkish government official stating that more than 5,000 Syrians crossed into Turkey overnight. According to an official at Turkey's crisis management center, the Syrians crossed into the Turkish border provinces of Mardin, Sanliurfa and Hatay. Turkey is currently sheltering more than 110,000 Syrian refugees fleeing violence in their homeland.

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