AP Interview: Syrian cosmonaut: Europe must help oust Assad

Syria's first man in space says European nations should help remove President Bashar Assad from office to bring an end to the refugee crisis.

Gen. Mohammed Faris, a 64-year-old Soviet-trained cosmonaut, fled the civil war Syria in 2012 for Turkey to join the Syrian opposition, becoming one of his country's highest-ranking defectors.

Faris, a refugee himself, told The Associated Press in an interview: "I tell Europe if you don't want refugees, then you should help us get rid of this regime."

Faris made history in 1987 when he became Syria's first cosmonaut — and a national hero — spending almost eight days in space.

Now based in Istanbul, he gives talks at universities and schools on his experiences in space.