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Muhammed Faris: The First Syrian to visit Space is now a Refugee in Turkey

In Turkey, Muhammed Faris now lectures in schools and conferences while his son runs a language school

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Muhammed Faris

The fighting that erupted in Syriya in the year 2011 led many homeless and most than 2 millions have made Turkey their new home. But, Muhammed Faris, who was a national hero back then in Syria is now tagged as a refugee in Turkey.

Muhammed Faris worked in the Syrian Air Force as a colonel. He participated in the Interkosmos program and was selected to be a part of the Navigation team for his space shuttle to the Space Station in July 1987. Faris was also awarded the most coveted titles of ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’ and ‘Order of Linen’ for his stellar performance in his capacity as an astronaut.

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Today, Muhammed Faris has fled Syria and survives as a refugee in Turkey.

Faris is one of these 2 million refugees. Although he lives a much more comfortable life compared to the other, less fortunate refugees, he says he hopes to return to his home country one day.

MiG-23 of the Syrian Air Force on air base Hama. Image source: Syrian Airforce base camp on air base Hama
MiG-23 of the Syrian Air Force on air base Hama. Image source: sputniknews.com

In the two years that he spent in Russia to train for his missions, Faris developed a deep liking towards Russians. However, he blames Vladimir Putin for the destruction of children’s homes and inhuman slaughter of civilians.

According to Faris, Bashar Assed, the Syrian dictator, was inspired by Putin when he responded to a peaceful uprising in Syria with violent force, turning the whole ordeal into a civil war.

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Today, Muhammed Faris lectures in schools and conferences while his son runs a language school. Every time he interacts with the students, Faris always recounts that moment when he first saw the Earth from space. And for that reason, he urges his students to fight against wars and tyrants to save the blue Planet.

-by Saurabh Bodas

Saurabh is pursuing his engineering and is an intern at NewsGram. 

Twitter: @saurabhbodas96

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Thousands Displaced as SDF Targeting Civilians Advances on Last IS Territory in Syria

Bali said the second obstacle for the SDF forces is that IS has a number of hostages who had been arrested and detained by the militants.

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Syria
A U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighter stands atop a hill in the desert outside the village of Baghuz, Syria, Feb. 14, 2019. VOA

Islamic State (IS) fighters are targeting civilians who are trying to flee the last territory held by the terror group in eastern Syria, U.S.-backed forces told VOA on Thursday.

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a U.S.-backed Kurdish-led alliance, said that IS militants hit a road used by civilians to escape violence as the battle to free the town of Baghuz in Syria’s Deir el-Zour province enters its sixth day.

“IS has blocked that road to prevent civilians from coming to the SDF,” SDF fighter Ali Ahmed said. “They have targeted civilians there, but we have responded to their attacks against civilians.”

Ahmed said that some families of IS fighters are among the fleeing civilians.

Located near the Iraqi border, Baghuz is the last stronghold held by IS extremists in Syria. With the help of the U.S.-led coalition, SDF fighters have pushed out IS from all territories it once held since 2014.

Fierce fighting between IS militants and the U.S.-backed fighters continues as the latter try to gain ground on Baghuz on several fronts.

“We have two main obstacles as we advance on Baghuz,” Mustafa Bali, an SDF spokesperson, told VOA. “The first one is that [IS] terrorists are holding on to a number of civilians to use them as a bargain chip for their exit.”

Bali said the second obstacle for the SDF forces is that IS has a number of hostages who had been arrested and detained by the militants.

IS controls about 5 square kilometers of territory inside the Syrian town, local military officials said.

“It seems that even the Americans are trying to rescue those civilians and hostages from IS,” Hasib said in a phone interview. VOA

Ivan Hasib, a Syrian reporter covering the battle, told VOA that he witnessed an unusual movement by U.S. military vehicles in the area.

“It seems that even the Americans are trying to rescue those civilians and hostages from IS,” Hasib said in a phone interview.

He said the remaining IS fighters in Baghuz are hoping to exchange hostages for a safe exit into the Iraqi desert.

Also Read: Islamic State Using Women, Children as Human Shields to Postpone Defeat

“There must be some sort of negotiations between IS and SDF about the hostages, because even [U.S.-led] coalition airstrikes have stopped since Tuesday night,” Hasib said, adding that SDF fighters were forced to pause their military operations on the northeastern front in Baghuz.

“We can’t start marching toward it from this side because of civilians. Many civilians are using this road to this side. So we’re here to protect them,” Mezlum Kobani, an SDF commander, told VOA.

According to SDF officials, more than 5,000 civilians have been rescued from IS in Baghuz. (VOA)