By BASSEM MROUE and JAMAL HALABY | Associated Press
(June 21st 2012 Thursday)

BEIRUT (AP) — A Syrian fighter jet made an emergency landing Thursday at a northern Jordanian airbase, a Jordanian government official said.

The official says the Russian-made MiG-21 landed at the King Hussein Air Base in Mafraq, a north Jordanian town near the Syrian border.

He declined to provide other details. Two other officials gave similar accounts.

All three spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the matter.

A spokesman for the rebel Free Syrian Army, Ahmad Kassem, said the plane had defected to Jordan and that its pilot was seeking political asylum. He said the group had encouraged the pilot to defect.

Syria’s state-run TV reported earlier that authorities have lost contact with a MiG-21 that was on a training mission in the country. The report gave no further details.

Since an uprising against President Bashar Assad’s regime began in March last year, Syrian troops have refrained from using military warplanes against rebels.

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Associated Press writer Jamal Halaby reported from Amman, Jordan