Syria's first man in space flees to Turkey

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The Independent Online

Syria's first man in space has fled to Turkey and joined opposition forces fighting President Bashar al-Assad's regime, the latest in a string of high-ranking defections, Turkey's state-run news agency reported yesterday.

Mohammad Ahmad Faris, 61, crossed into Turkey after reaching the headquarters of the Free Syrian Army in Aleppo. Colonel Faris, an air force pilot, was part of the three-man crew of a Soviet space mission in 1987.

Despite a number of high-profile defections, the core of the Assad regime remains intact.