June 23 - Defected Syrian colonel's relatives say pilots should defect instead of killing civilians. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
The hometown of the Syrian pilot who defected to Jordan. It is just a few miles from the city of Idlib. On Thursday Colonel Hassan Hamada -- a Syrian air force pilot -- flew over the border to Jordan and was granted political asylum. Video obtained by Reuters shows his home. His military certificate hangs on the wall. His cousin is is proud of him (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) COLONEL HASSAN HAMADA'S COUSIN, UNNAMED, SAYING: "Syrian Army asked Colonel Hassan Hamada to bomb Deraa, but his heart did not let him attack innocent civilians and children. Therefore he went to the Jordanian land. We ask all honourable pilots like this colonel to defect with their airplanes and go elsewhere. It is better than killing children. Even if they do not want to defect from the Syrian Army, we ask them not to kill children or destroy buildings." A former colleague also offers praise. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) RELATIVE OF COLONEL HASSAN HAMADA, UNNAMED, SAYING: "I am one of his friends and colleagues. The leadership of the army asked him to kill innocent people. He refused to attack his own people while they are asleep. He was not raised to be a killer. He refused killing children, women, youth and elderly. He refused to attack homes. This is why the pilot defected." Syria's Defense Ministry called the pilot a quote "traitor to his country and his military honour, saying it would punish Hamada under military law and was in contact with Jordan to retrieve the aircraft. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters