Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Mourners killed at Syria funeral

Anti-Syrian regime protesters shout slogans against president Bashar Assad (AP)

Security forces have opened fire at tens of thousands of mourners who turned out for the funeral of a Kurdish opposition leader in north-eastern Syria, killing at least two people, activists said.

People marched through the streets of Qamishli in the funeral procession for Mashaal Tammo, one of Syria's most prominent opposition figures who was gunned down on Friday by masked gunmen in the city. The killing 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.

"All of Qamishli is out, the funeral is turning into a massive protest," Kurdish activist and lawyer Mustafa Osso said.

The mourners swelling through Qamishli's streets called on Mr Assad to step down, with chants of "Leave, Leave".

Mr Osso said more than 50,000 people were on Qamishli's streets to take part in the funeral.

Security forces opened fire during the funeral procession, killing two mourners and wounding several others, he said.

The Local Co-ordination Committees activist network also said at least one person was killed and other were injured in gunfire. The group said the city has been completely shut down after a general strike was declared to mourn Mr Tammo.

It said clashes took place between security forces and protesters who tried to tear down a statue of Hafez Assad, the authoritarian leader and late father of Syria's current president.

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 inside and outside the country 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. Some in the opposition said the regime was responsible for his assassination.

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