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.
Israeli forces arrest Palestinians accused of being involved in bombing that injured 19 people
'More than 6,000 civilians, most of them women and children, were able to flee areas in the countryside of Aleppo province' as ISIL launches an offensive against the Syrian opposition
'After two series of negotiations without any results because of obstacles raised by the Saudis, Iranian pilgrims will unfortunately not be able to take part in the hajj,' state media reported
UN refugee agency says it is 'immediately' alerting Turkish authorities of developments in Azaz, northern Syria
ISIL has taken control of a number of villages in eastern and southern Azaz district
'Heavy clashes took place overnight between ISIL fighters and opposition inside the walls of Marea town,' a monitor says
Supreme leader urges freshly-elected parliament to be a stronghold against ‘impudence, charms’ of nation’s enemies
Syrian regime and Russian warplanes launch at least 40 airstrikes on towns in Aleppo province
The Pentagon has banned troops in Syria from wearing these Kurdish militia patches
UN humanitarian coordinator Jan Egeland says reaching aid for Syrians it is impossible and a critical situation in some areas.
Egypt's lead investigator said signals coming from the aircraft's fuselage will narrow down the search radius from 40 miles to three
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suffered his second cabinet resignation in a week on Friday when a minister quit over the appointment of a hardline nationalist in the "extremist government".
Iranian man last of 4 refugees detained by Australia who volunteered to move to Cambodia last year
US ground troops are aiding the coalition against ISIL in Raqqa
Iranian official accuses Saudi Arabia of planning large-scale cyber attack against his country
Pentagon comment follows photos surfaced of U.S. special forces wearing Kurdish YPG patches in Syria