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.
Kuwait is looking to upgrade its firepower amid increased security concerns in the region linked to the rise of the extremist ISIL group
Nusra Front delivers 16 Lebanese soldiers via Red Cross as part of Qatar-supervised prisoner swap
Ambassador refutes claims pair are linked to Iranian Quds force
4,000 civilians in Iraq and Syria have been killed this year by airstrikes ostensibly targeting ISIL, UK-based NGOs say
London had suspended flights to Egypt’s Sharm al-Sheikh following crash of Russian passenger plane in October
'Naturally, if you ask Syrians they will tell you they don't want a peace conference in France... because France supports terrorism and war, not peace,' Syrian president says
Spokesman says countries conducting airstrikes must maximize measures to protect civilian lives
UAE would 'participate in any international effort demanding a ground intervention to fight terrorism', State Minister for Foreign Affairs says
Damascus's denial comes as growing number of countries have cast doubt on whether Syrian regime is truly making efforts to destroy its lethal arms
Local Turkmen commander asserts there are no Daesh militants in Syria's northwestern Bayirbucak region
Planned meeting of Syrian opposition groups in Riyadh in December could boost unity within opposition forces to enter talks on ending the conflict
PM Abadi's remarks come a day after American senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham advocated to nearly triple number of US troops in Iraq
France's top diplomat says it is 'obvious' Assad could not work alongside moderate opposition in Syria
Latest arrests come one day after four policemen are killed in drive-by shooting south of capital Cairo
Jewish state slaps Swede of Palestinian descent with 18 months for allegedly spying for Lebanese armed group
The destroyed bakery was serving 40,000 people per day, owners say