News Briefs – August 29, 2018


Iran says it signed deal to help rebuild Syria’s military

Iran’s defense minister says his country has signed a deal with Syria to rebuild the Syrian armed forces that have been battered by years of war.
Amir Hatami, who is on a two-day visit to Syria, told the Beirut-based al-Mayadeen TV station in an interview aired Aug. 27 that the agreement is to also develop Syria’s military industry.
Iran has been an essential backer of Syria’s government in the civil war now in its seventh year, providing advisers, military supplies, training and thousands of militiamen to fight alongside the Syrian army.
Israel has been critical of Iran’s expanding role in Syria, saying it won’t tolerate an Iranian permanent military presence near its frontiers.
Hatami said Iran is in Syria at the invitation of its government. AP

Kremlin: China participation in war games shows interaction

The Kremlin’s spokesman says China’s participation in major military exercises in Russia next month demonstrates growing connections between Moscow and Beijing.
The war games in central and eastern Russia, which are billed as the largest since the fall of the Soviet Union, will involve about 300,000 Russian troops. China’s state Xinhua news agency has reported China plans to send 3,200 troops and about 900 weapons units.
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Tuesday that “it indicates the broadening of interaction between these two allies in all spheres.”
Last week, military units in the east were put on a state of high alert in preparation for the games. The Defense Ministry on Aug. 27 released video of cruise missile tests by the Pacific Fleet in the Sea of Okhotsk. AP

Astronaut quits halfway through training, 1st in 50 years

For the first time in 50 years, an astronaut-in-training is quitting NASA.
Astronaut candidate Robb Kulin has resigned halfway through his two years of training at Johnson Space Center in Houston. NASA spokeswoman Brandi Dean said his departure is effective Aug. 31 and that he is leaving for personal reasons that the space agency cannot discuss due to privacy laws.
Kulin was among 12 new astronauts chosen last summer from a record 18,300 applicants. Kulin, 34, was working as a senior manager at SpaceX when selected and said at the time he was hoping to fly on a vehicle he helped design. SpaceX and Boeing are developing NASA’s first commercial crew capsules, due to launch within the next year.
He grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and worked as a commercial fisherman in Alaska and an ice driller in Antarctica.
The last time astronauts-in-training resigned from NASA was in 1968. AP