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Syrian Pilot Defects, Uses Jet to Bomb Army Positions

Damascus-based activist Haytham al-Abdallah says the pilot was ordered to bomb civilian areas in the Ghotta region, east of Damascus, but he refused to obey orders.

A Syrian pilot who defected used his jet to bomb government forces in an area outside Damascus, opposition activists said Saturday.

The opposition Military Council in Damascus said "a (defector) pilot with his Soviet-made MiG warplane shelled military regime bases in Moadamiya district."

Damascus-based activist Haytham al-Abdallah told dpa the pilot was ordered to bomb civilian areas in the Ghotta region, east of Damascus, but he refused to obey orders.

Activists would not reveal the whereabouts of the pilot and his plane.

In the northern province of Idlib, rebels intensified their attacks on the Wadi al-Daif and Hamdiyeh military bases, to seize full control of the area, said Abu Rami al-Idibli, a member of the Free Syrian Army.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the rebels are trying to cut supply routes to both bases.

Last week, rebels captured the nearby airbase of Taftanaz, which was considered a military blow to President Bashar Assad's forces.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry lashed out at a petition by 58 countries calling for a war crimes case against Syria, in a letter to the president of the United Nations Security Council.

"The Syrian government regrets the persistence of these countries in following the wrong approach and refusing to recognize the duty of the Syrian state to protect its people from terrorism imposed from abroad," it said.

Syria is not a member of the International Criminal Court and the UN Security Council is the only body that can refer the conflict to the court.

UNICEF has denounced the violence that reportedly killed dozens of children since Monday.

"UNICEF condemns these latest incidents in the strongest terms, and once again calls on all parties to ensure civilians - and children especially - are spared the effects of the conflict," said Maria Calivis, UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.

According to activists, some 60 children were killed this week in central and northern Syria.