ANKARA –– Another general has fled to Turkey from neighbouring Syria and joined the swelling ranks of rebel soldiers based close to the border, the Anatolia news agency reported on Monday.
The defection brought to 13 the number of generals seeking refuge in Turkey since the revolt against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime erupted 16 months ago.
In addition to the general, two colonels and some 30 soldiers flanked by their families crossed into Turkey late on Sunday, said Anatolia.
The defectors were taken to Apaydin camp in Hatay province, some four kilometres from the border with Syria.
The refugee camps in the southeastern provinces of Hatay, Gaziantep, Sanliurfa and Kilis shelter more than 33,000 Syrians, a number that surged after a recent escalation of violence in Syria, particularly in northwestern towns near the Turkish border.
Monitoring groups say some 15,000 people have been killed in the 16-month uprising against the Assad regime, as UN officials say they fear a full-blown civil war in Syria.
Turkey, once a close ally of Syria, summoned an emergency NATO meeting for Tuesday after accusing Damascus of shooting down one of its military planes in international airspace.