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.
Regime forces were killed in Jobar district of Damascus
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Tehran should continue with 2015 deal despite fresh US sanctions
An official Saudi source renews accusations against Tehran of 'spreading terrorism and extremism'
Four Arab states severed diplomatic relations with Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism
After the liberation of Mosul and loss of territory in Syria's Raqqa, ISIL terrorist group has become more active in the unrest in southern Philippines, Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and Nigeria’s Borno State.
Israeli media report reopening of Cairo embassy could be imminent after 8-month closure
Nearly 4.1 million Jordanians are eligible to vote in the election
Around 4,000 people near Hadalat crossing reportedly living only on flour, water
But Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano suggested there were more prospects now for the truth to be revealed.
Case number rapidly approaching ICRC projection of 600,000 infections by end-2017
Around 800 pilgrims are set to cross the terminal on Monday
Medhat Shousha quits in wake of deadly train accident
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rarely addresses the Kurdish issue.
Many Egyptians were forced to flee the country after the military coup against Morsi
Scientists at the Dimona Nuclear Research Centre have been on a slowdown strike for the past three months after their demand for a wage increase was refused.
The bill must still be approved by the conservative-dominated Guardian Council but gained parliamentary approval after months of debate, according to parliament's website and the ISNA news agency.