Monday 18 December 2017

Syrian forces open fire on thousands at funeral

ZEINA KARAM

SYRIAN security forces opened fire on tens of thousands of mourners who turned out yesterday for the funeral of a slain Kurdish opposition leader in northeastern Syria, killing at least two people, eyewitnesses said.

Activists said security forces also fired on a funeral procession in the Damascus suburb of Douma for three people who were killed a day earlier, wounding 10 people.

The biggest crowds took to the streets of Qamishli, where people marched to mourn Mashaal Tammo, the prominent Kurdish opposition figure who was gunned down last Friday by masked gunmen. The slaying was the latest in a string of targeted killings in Syria as the country slides further into disorder, seven months into the uprising against President Bashar Assad.

The mourners called on Mr Assad to step down, with chants of "Leave, Leave," while others demanded the "execution of the president". Kurdish activist and lawyer Mustafa Osso said more than 50,000 people were present.

Security forces opened fire on the crowd, killing two mourners and wounding several others, he said.

The Local Coordination Committees activist network also said at least one person was killed and others were injured. The group said the city has been shut down after a general strike was declared to mourn Mr Tammo.

Mr Tammo, a 53-year-old former political prisoner and a spokesman for the Kurdish Future Party, was also a member of the executive committee of the newly formed Syrian National Council, a broad-based front bringing together opposition figures in an attempt to unify the deeply fragmented dissident movement.

A vocal regime opponent, Mr Tammo had been instrumental in organising anti-government protests in Qamishli in recent months.

It was not clear who carried out the killing.

Some in the opposition said the regime was responsible for his assassination.

Mr Osso said Mr Tammo had no enemies and blamed security forces, but others noted there was a power struggle between him and rival Kurdish parties.

Sunday Independent

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