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Hassan Hamada
Native name حسن حمادة
Born c. 1968
Place of birth Kafr Takharim, Idlib, Syria
Allegiance  Syria (until 2012)
Service/branch Syrian Air Force (until 2012)
Years of service ? - 2012
Rank Colonel

Hassan Hamada (Arabic language: حسن حمادة‎, born c. 1968[1]), also spelled as Hammadeh, is a former Colonel in the Syrian Air Force who, together with his MiG-21, defected to Jordan on 21 June 2012 during the Syrian civil war.[1]

Defection[]

A Jordanian security source said Hamada flew from al-Dumair military airport northeast of Damascus and landed at King Hussein Airbase at 11am. Syrian state television said communications were lost with his plane at 10.34am while he was on a training mission near the border with Jordan.[2] Right after he landed, he reportedly removed his Air Force insignia and requested political asylum in Jordan, which the country later granted on 'humanitarian grounds'.[3] There had been other defections and desertions from the Syrian military, but no Syrian Air Force pilots had been known to defect with their aircraft.[4]

An anti-Assad activist reached in Syria, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the pilot flew into Jordan after refusing orders to bomb targets in Syria.[4] A Syrian government paramilitary force known as the Shabiha retaliated by setting fire to the homes of Hamada, his brother and his mother. Opposition sources said he had smuggled his family to Turkey before his defection.[5]

Hamada’s defection raised questions about whether fealty to President Bashar Assad was fraying in the air force, the military branch regarded as closest to the Assad family. Hamada, like most Syrian pilots, belongs to the Sunni Muslim majority so his defection generated speculation that Sunni pilots would face new restrictions on any flying missions.[4] Hamada’s defection also created additional tensions between Jordan and Syria. Syria has demanded the return of the plane and to pilot to Syria from Jordan. Weighing such a request presented awkward complications for Jordan, which has sought to avoid becoming ensnared in the conflict in Syria, an important trading partner.[4]

According to some sources,[6] the MiG-21 aircraft flown by Col. Hamada was modified as an 'Optionally Piloted Aircraft', thought to be used in remotely controlled unmanned configuration for carrying chemical weapons.

References[]

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