More than 30 Syrian soldiers defect to Turkey

Dozens of members of Syria’s military defected to Turkey overnight with their »»

Dozens of members of Syria’s military defected to Turkey overnight with their families, a Turkish official said on Monday, at a time of heightened tensions between the two countries over Syria’s downing of a Turkish military plane.

The Anatolia news agency said 33 soldiers crossed into Turkey overnight and that the group -- 224 people in all -- included a general and two colonels.A government official, however, said the group included three colonels and no generals. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in line with government rules, did not know the overall number of defectors and the two accounts could not immediately be reconciled. There were also other reports that put the number of military defectors at 38.

Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız also said Turkey will cut electricity supplies to the conflict-torn country, where escalating violence has claimed thousands of lives and forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.

Turkish companies provide Syria with on average 2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity per year -- around 10 percent of Syria’s annual power consumption.

The defections come three days after Syria shot down the aircraft, further fraying relations between the two countries that were once allies.

2012-06-25

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