"They swam through the Orontes River," said a Turkish government official, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to discuss border security with the media. The Orontes makes up part of the border between Turkey and Syria.
"Some of the soldiers are wounded and are being treated in hospital. They left their weapons in Syria," the Turkish official continued.
Unlike thousands of other soldiers and officers who have defected from the Syrian armed forces throughout the 19-month conflict, the Turkish official said the 12 new arrivals did not appear to be deserting the military.
"They wanted to escape from the fighting," he said, adding that the 12 Syrian troops were being kept at a separate location from other camps housing refugees and defectors.