Syria: 1000s attend funeral processions for bomb victims

Funerals for the 44 killed in twin suicide car bombs turn into pro-Assad rallies; Christian and Muslim clerics attend; Syrians chant "Death to America."

December 24, 2011 15:41
1 minute read.
Syrians pray next to coffins

Syrians pray next to coffins 311 . (photo credit: REUTERS/Sana Sana)

BEIRUT - Thousands of Syrians chanted "Death to America" on Saturday during funeral processions in Damascus for at least 44 people killed in twin suicide bombings that rocked the capital.

Syria blamed al-Qaida for the blasts which hit two security buildings on Friday and came a day after an Arab League delegation arrived to prepare for monitors who will report on Syrian President Bashar Assad's implementation of a plan to end the bloodshed.

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Some Assad opponents said the attacks could have been staged by the government itself.

The funerals on Saturday turned into pro-Assad rallies in which mourners called for revenge and condemned Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani whose country, once an ally of Assad, is now one of his main critics.

The crowd, carrying posters of Assad and Syrian flags, chanted "We want your head, Hamad" and "We sacrifice our souls and blood for you Bashar" and "God, Syria and Bashar only."

The coffins, wrapped in Syrian flags, were lined up inside the city's historic gilded 8th century Umayyad Mosque, one of Islam's holiest sites. Many were marked "unknown".

Both Muslim and Christian clerics attended the funerals which were led by the most senior Sunni Muslim cleric Mufti Ahmad Hassoun, whose son was shot dead by gunmen in the northern province of Idlib in October.

Syria's state television aired live footage of the funeral processions.

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