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.
Russia on Sunday prepared to ramp up its bombing campaign in Syria as Moscow challenged the West's distinction between ISIL and other armed groups
Sinai area is a stronghold of the Egyptian affiliate of the ISIL group in Egypt
French PM says Russia should not 'get the wrong targets', echoing the words of French President to Russian counterpart Putin at Paris summit
Iraqi PM welcomes cooperation with Russia amid Moscow airstrikes on Syria targets allegedly belonging to ISIL since Sept. 30
'Russia is backing the butcher Assad and helping him,' PM Cameron says
Russian strikes destroy ISIL command post, underground bunker in Syria
Saudi-backed Yemeni government decided to sever diplomatic relations with Iran
UNICEF points to harrowing rise in fatalities, injuries and malnutrition among war-torn country's children
FMs from OIC member states reaffirm support for Yemen’s political transition, condemn Israeli actions in occupied E. Jerusalem
'Su-34 planes carried out strikes on an ISIL training camp and on a camouflaged command post southwest of the town of Raqa,' Russian defense ministry says
ISIL is not known to be operational in the areas targeted by Russia on Thursday where civilians were killed.
PM Davutoglu rejects Moscow's insistence that its campaign of air strikes launched this week was aimed at ISIL fighters
Salih Muslim, co chair of the Democratic Union Party has tied his hopes on Russian intervention in Syria over negotiations with Turkey
Facing stiff resistance from Saudi Arabia, Western governments have been stopped in their tracks for the launch of a UN inquiry into the Yemen war
Russia's military operation against 'ISIL and other terrorist groups' to last three to four months
Secretary-General of Ministry of Iraqi Peshmerga clarifies position on Russia's strikes on ISIL targets and says it is not part of it