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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State Department spokeswoman said on Friday the U.S. Treasury Department would look into the matter to determine if there were any violations of sanctions imposed on Iran.
Al-Ahmad said that he briefed the top Egyptian diplomat about proposals made during recent trilateral meetings between the Palestinians, Israelis and Americans with the aim of reviving peace negotiations
The arrival of aid convoys into the coastal enclave has been recently hindered after Egyptian authorities tightened restrictions on the border with Gaza
Most of the delegates representing the SPLM-N have already arrived in the Ethiopian capital for the talks, scheduled to kick off Tuesday
The accident focused attention on the risks sherpas take and on overcrowding on Everest, where the number of fatal accidents has risen in recent decades, although it dropped last year.
The Ukrainian Interior Ministry noted that its police were unable to operate in Slaviansk since pro-Moscow gunmen took over the town earlier this month
Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission said initial results based on almost 50 percent of the vote from the 34 provinces showed Abdullah in the lead with 44.4 percent
The governor has accused the government of using Boko Haram pretext to commit genocide against the people of the north
Search for the missing 84 girls continues in the Sambisa forest
The bomb attack left five security guards dead as militants managed to take dozens of students and professors hostage after raiding the premises
Militants have killed 14 Algerian soldiers in an ambush during a patrol in mountains east of the capital Algiers
Egyptian-born cleric whose sermons have often admonished the authorities in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), said all views expressed in his preaching were his own and not those of Qatar.
Pictures posted on SANA's website showed Assad, dressed in a beige blazer, waving and examining antiquities as he toured the area with church officials