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.
Egypt has drafted an antiterrorism bill that threatens at least two years in prison for those who contradict official figures when reporting on militant attacks.
The Egyptian army has launched operations in Northern Sinai, killing 63 opposition forces.
Saudi-led strikes hit party headquarters of Houthi ally former president Ali Abdullah Saleh
Foreign minister insists recent violence in restive peninsula is 'nothing more than criminal, terrorist acts'
The Lebanese group Hezbollah's television station al Manar said its members and the Syrian army entered Zabadani where oppositions have held it since 2012.
Egyptian dictatorship detains 63 Muslim Brotherhood members. Latest arrests come only days after security forces gun down nine Brotherhood members in West Cairo apartment
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
Egypt’s president made an unannounced visit to the Sinai Peninsula on Saturday to rally troops following attacks
Attack takes place during Iftar established by Nusra Front
The Syrian army and its allies have launched an attack on the Syrian city of Zabadani, a border city with Lebanon
In 1980s despite knowing about Saddam's plans on building up a chemical weapons arsenal, British government chose not to interfere
ISIL's Egypt affiliate, Sinai Province, claims to launch three Grad rockets toward "occupied Palestine".
13 shells had been launched on Friday by Yemen's Houthis, targeting several areas including Jizan's airport.
Thousands of supporters have filled the streets of various cities in Egypt to protest the anniversary of the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi
An Israeli general has said that Hamas has aided ISIL in Egypt by smuggling wounded through tunnels into Gaza from Sinai
US and allies struck ISIL 24 times in various locations around Syria and Iraq