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.
Obama, speaking by phone on Sunday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, stressed the need for an immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza
The number of Iraqi families fleeing Mosul, Saladin, Diyala and Kirkuk amid ISIL-led insurgency exceeds 110,000, according to Iraqi Red Crescent
The army said in a statement it retook the field after a "precise operation in which dozens of terrorists were killed."
"It was an attempted hijack as the convoy was on its way to the Tunisian border," the official said. "No one was injured but vehicles were damaged."
Flights to and from Shanghai International Airport Co. Ltd. and 11 other airports in east China will face major delays until mid-August because of military drills
The Rafah border terminal represents the embattled coastal strip's only window to the outside world outside Israeli control
The Palestinian death toll from Israel's devastating military offensive in the blockaded Gaza Strip rose to 1053
Militants attacked Kolofata, a town in Cameroon's Far North Region near Nigeria, and seized several people including the wife of Cameroon's Vice Prime Minister Amadou Ali
Malaysian experts have said they believe at least 30 investigators will be required to cover the full site of the crash, in addition to Dutch investigators and an expert from the United Nations' civil aviation body
Foreigners face abduction in north African state as security deteriorates, ministry warns
Tension continues to run high in the occupied West Bank amid Israel's devastating onslaught against the blockaded Gaza Strip
While he made no direct reference to the situation in the Gaza Strip, the comments came after a humanitarian truce broke down and more than 1,000 people, mostly civilians including dozens of children, have been killed.
Chechnya leader says puts travel, bank account ban on Obama, EU officials over Ukraine
North Korean leader targeted American bases ahead of 61st anniversary of Korean War ceasefire agreement
Two outposts in Mahfad were attacked by men driving car bombs followed by shooting.
Because of drought and continued conflict, it said food shortages were expected to worsen in areas mainly in the south and southeast of Somalia.