Ankara (ANTARA News/AFP) - A Syrian general and several soldiers crossed into Turkey on Monday, a Turkish diplomat told AFP, bringing the number of defections by generals from Bashar al-Assad`s embattled regime to at least 18.

Turkey has become home to dozens of defectors who have crossed the border and formed the Free Syrian Army in opposition to Assad`s regime.

The latest defection brings to 18 the number of generals who have fled into Turkey since the conflict in Syria erupted in March last year.

The Turkish diplomat, who also spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity, said Tuesday that almost 42,700 Syrian refugees are now living in camps near the border with Syria.

"We are seeing an increase in the number of Syrians arriving in Turkey, whether they are civilians or military," the diplomat said.

In Washington, a US State Department official who asked not to be named said a total of 1,280 Syrians had fled to Turkey overnight, including the general and other soldiers.

"Clearly the regime is panicking at this point," the US official added. (AK)

Editor: B Kunto Wibisono

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