Syria: Mass funeral for dozens Shia Muslims killed in April 15 bus convoy blast
At least 150 people, including 72 children, were killed on April 15 in an explosion targeting evacuees from Fuaa and Kafraya, two Shia-majority villages in northwestern Syria.world Updated: Apr 26, 2017 19:24 IST
Hundreds gathered at a Shia Muslim shrine south of Damascus on Wednesday to mourn the victims of a suicide bombing during a landmark evacuation earlier this month, AFP’s correspondent said.
At least 150 people, including 72 children, were killed on April 15 in an explosion targeting evacuees from Fuaa and Kafraya, two Shia-majority villages in northwestern Syria.
Dozens of the dead were to be buried on Wednesday near the Sayyida Zeinab mausoleum, Syria’s most visited Shia pilgrimage site, one of the funeral organisers told AFP.
“Today, there will be funeral services for 52 of the dead, after they were identified. They will be buried in a cemetery near the shrine,” the organiser said.
Civilians and fighters from Fuaa and Kafraya began gathering at the mosque from Wednesday morning to take part in the funeral procession.
“There’s no worse feeling than this, than burying your sister without being able to see her,” said 19-year-old Abdelsalam Remman, his voice breaking.
He was carrying a poster of his six-year-old sister Tuqa, who was killed in the attack after being evacuated with their mother, who was only wounded.
“Our heart melted until we identified her” among those of the dead several days later, said Remman.
The suicide car bombing in Rashidin, west of Syria’s second city Aleppo, was one of the most gruesome attacks of the six-year war.
It hit a convoy of evacuees from Fuaa and Kafraya, who had been bussed out of their besieged government-held villages as part of an evacuation deal that also included two rebel-controlled towns surrounded by the regime.
The attacker appeared to lure children to his vehicle with bags of crisps, according to witnesses, and dozens of unidentified bodies remain at Aleppo’s government hospital.
Security was tight at Sayyida Zeinab on Wednesday, with Syrian army soldiers and allied forces carefully searching every person entering the shrine’s perimeter, AFP’s correspondent said.
Inside the courtyard, which was covered in a red carpet, dozens of women in black stood in one corner of the shrine, tearfully repeating the names of their fallen relatives.
Young men were calling out religious chants as the coffins, draped in Syrian government flags, were carried in under the watchful eyes of Syrian police officers and unarmed security forces.
Mourners carried red and black posters bearing photographs of the attack, including wreckage of the bus carrying evacuees and plumes of smoke.
“Victory blooms from your blood,” read one poster.
Sayyida Zeinab has been hit by several deadly bombings since the start of Syria’s war in 2011, including twin bombings in March that killed 74 people.