Kurd Protest Syria 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
BEIRUT – Tens of thousands of Syrian Kurds called on Saturday for the
overthrow of President Bashar Assad during the funeral in eastern Syria of
Meshaal al-Tammo, a Kurdish opposition figure who was killed a day
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Syrian security forces killed at least two people when they
opened fire on the mourners, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human
Rights said. At least two people were killed and three were wounded when the
funeral came under fire, the organization added. It estimated that 50,000 people
had turned out for the funeral.
Security forces also opened fire on a
funeral procession for three people who were killed on Friday in the Damascus
suburb of Douma, killing one mourner and wounding 10, the group said.
least eight people were killed in anti-Assad protests after Friday
Tammo, a charismatic figure who was released from prison earlier
this year, was a critic of Assad who had also angered powerful Kurdish parties
because of his criticism of Kurdish rivals. The United States has condemned his
Activists said on Friday that four gunmen burst into a house in
the city of Qamishli, shot dead Tammo and wounded his son. It was not clear who
was behind the attack.
One activist said he feared the killing might
encourage Kurds to take up arms against Assad forces, pushing the country closer
to civil war.
“This is a terrorist attack, a terrorist
The Kurds might feel they want to avenge. We are very
angry,” said a Kurdish activist who declined to be named.
broadcast by Al Jazeera television showed Tammo’s coffin being carried on
people’s shoulders wrapped in a Kurdish flag and covered with
“Leave, Leave,” the mourners chanted.
Meshaal’s son, told Al Jazeera from Erbil in northern Iraq that the Kurds were
angry and blamed the Syrian authorities for his father’s death.
blood is precious to them [Kurds], they will not give up until the regime is
overthrown and the execution of Bashar Assad,” he said.
Damascus said Syrian authorities stepped up security in Kurdish areas in the
Kurds make up about 10 percent of Syria’s 20 million population,
and largely support the uprising against Assad.
Ethnic Kurds have long
complained of discrimination and staged violent protests against Assad in 2004.
They are not allowed to teach Kurdish in schools or to set up Kurdish radio
While Assad has sent troops and tanks to crush protests against
him which erupted in March, he also promised reforms. He has ended a state of
emergency and promised parliamentary elections in February.
He tried to
pacify the Kurds by giving citizenship to tens of thousands of them, and
casualties in the Kurdish areas remained the lowest.
Many of Assad’s
opponents say his reform promises are hollow and that his government has
forfeited all legitimacy after killing at least 2,900 civilians, by a UN count.