Syria’s first astronaut, who saw a borderless earth, buried in war-torn homeland

(23 Apr 2024)



LENGTH: 1:49

Azaz, Syria – 22 April 2024
1. Various of coffin of Syrian Astronaut Mohammed Faris being transported by vehicle during funeral
2. Various of mourners marching during funeral
3. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Col. Yasser Abdel Rahim, Free Syrian Army:
"He is a symbol to all Syrians. Tens of thousands of Syrians came today to attend the funeral and bid him farewell at his final resting place. He was a symbol to many Syrians and will remain a symbol to all Syrians."

4. Various of funeral
5. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Brig. Gen. Abdul-Mohsen Ali Fare, Free Syrian Army:
"Today, the funeral of the ‘Golden Knight’, the first Syrian astronaut and the second in the Arab world, was held. He was carried to his final resting place. May his soul rest in peace. Astronaut Abu Qutaiba, Mohammed Faris, did not receive the recognition he deserved in life, but people loved him and large crowds attended the funeral."

6. Various of funeral, mourners carrying coffin and chanting
Thousands of Syrians went to the northern town of Azaz on Monday for the funeral of the country’s first astronaut, who also became one of the country’s most prominent figures to join the opposition to the government of President Bashar Assad.

Mohammed Faris, 72, died in exile in Turkey on Friday after a period of illness.

His body was repatriated to Syria on Monday to be buried in an opposition-held part of Aleppo province.

Faris became a national hero in 1987 when he became Syria’s first man in space as part of a Cold War-era Soviet-led mission.

Initially trained as a pilot, he had been selected for a space program and moved to the former Soviet Union in 1985 for training with other cosmonauts.

Two years later, he traveled to the Mir space station aboard a Soyuz spacecraft.

“I saw the earth from outer space. The earth is like one ball, it has no borders,” Faris told the Associated Press in an interview in 2016.

“And that’s wonderful, because in outer space, there are no gates between countries. From there, the earth is one home, one family,” he said.

In 2012, soon after the outbreak of Syria’s popular uprising-turned-civil-war in 2011, Faris fled to Turkey and jointed the political opposition, becoming one of the country’s highest ranking defectors.

In addition to advising the Syrian opposition, he and his wife founded an NGO serving internally displaced people in northern Syria.

He also frequently gave talks at universities and schools about his experiences in space.

AP video shot by Omar Albam


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