World Bulletin/News Desk
A Syrian astronaut who was part of a Soviet space mission a quarter of a century ago condemned the world's failure to stem violence in his home country on Friday and urged President Bashar al-Assad's opponents to keep up their struggle.
General Muhammed Ahmed Faris, a military aviator and the first Syrian in space, fled to Turkey 10 days ago, joining the ranks of prominent defectors who have included military generals and former Prime Minister Riyad Hijab.
"I decided to defect from the regime several months ago, but I was kept under surveillance and it prevented me from defecting immediately," Faris told Reuters, saying that seeing an 8-month-old child wounded by shrapnel had been the final straw.
"For the world, you watch us while we are dying and your silence is a crime, but we will succeed anyway."
Faris, 61, flew with a Soviet crew to the space station Mir in 1987 and was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union after the journey. He also received the Order of Lenin.
Moscow's support for Syria's government has been criticised by Western nations since the Syrian uprising began in March 2011. Russia and China have vetoed three Western-backed United Nations Security Council resolutions criticising Damascus and threatening sanctions.
The conflict between Assad's forces and rebels is intensifying. More than 250 people, including 123 civilians, were killed in Syria on Thursday alone, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based opposition watchdog.
Turkey is taking the brunt of a swelling exodus of refugees, with 66,000 Syrians now sheltering there, according to the Turkish state disaster and emergency authority.
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OPEC and non-OPEC oil producing countries agreed to cap production from January 1 to end a global glut that has hammered prices, but doubts remain about implementation before data is released at the end of the month.
The government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had appealed against a lower court ruling in June that found the controversial border demarcation agreement was illegal.
Yemen's Saudi-backed government rejected earlier peace plan proposed by envoy
At least 180 ISIL targets also destroyed as part of Turkish-led Operation Euphrates Shield, Turkish military says
US, Jordan, Saudi Arabia declare support for Operation Euphrates Shield
A suspect hoax has forced an emergency landing in Kuwait by Eurowings
Iran has seen a rise in oil exports and increased investment in manufacturing since it came into force however Iran has accused Washington of not keeping to their side of the agreement
A week-long assault by government forces and their allies aims to expel the Iran-backed Huthis from Dhubab region, close to the Bab al-Mandab strait linking the Red Sea and Indian Ocean.
Violating Turkish-Russian cease-fire deal, regime forces hit marketplace in Idlib province
Ibrahim Halawa’s trial postponed 17 times since arrest in 2013
So-called Syrian Democratic Forces is comprised largely of PKK terror elements alongside token Arab force
Israel often targets positions linked to the powerful Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Earlier Friday, the army had advanced in Wadi Barada, taking the village of Baseema under heavy fire, the Observatory said.
Russia and Turkey have spearheaded a shaky ceasefire in Syria, which Moscow and Ankara hope will lead to Syria peace talks in Kazakhstan beginning on January 23.
Turkish, Russian militaries coordinate respective air operations to avoid mishaps, Turkish defense minister says