Free Syrian Army fighters vow to avenge Aleppo river massacre

Updated 01 February 2013
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Free Syrian Army fighters vow to avenge Aleppo river massacre

ALEPPO, Syria: The unidentified bodies of 29 people, found along with dozens more in a river in Aleppo after being shot at close range, were buried in a common grave yesterday to vows of vengeance.
They were among an estimated 80 young men, women and children who had been shot in the head or neck at point-blank range by unknown killers and dumped in the river, where they were found on Tuesday.
The bodies, which had lain unclaimed in a makeshift morgue at a school in the Bustan Al-Qasr district of Syria’s once-thriving commercial capital, were loaded aboard five trucks and taken to a park, an AFP correspondent said.
The remaining victims had already been identified by relatives and taken home for burial.
The funeral cortege was accompanied by a crowd that swelled to 2,000 by the time it reached what has been renamed the River Martyrs Park, where the bodies were placed in a trench 18 paces long and two meters (6.5 feet) deep.
The park was chosen as a burial site because there was no cemetery available where they could all be buried in the same place, said Ahmed Shama, a fighter in Aleppo who vowed vengeance for their deaths.
The fighters of Aleppo “have decided that in less than 24 hours they will provide a forceful response to this slaughter,” he said.
“We have promised the families of these people that their deaths will not be in vain ... We will avenge each and every one of these martyrs.”
After the funeral prayers were complete and an excavator covering the trench with earth, Free Syria Army group urged mourners to leave the park for their safety. Moments later, bullets fired by regime snipers began slamming in to buildings next to the park and people fled.
No one has claimed responsibility for the gruesome massacre. Militants fighting to overthrow Bashar Assad blame his regime.
The United Nations says that more than 60,000 people have died in the 22-month uprising against Assad.
Meanwhile, Russia warned yesterday that any air strike against its ally Syria would be “unacceptable,” as Israel maintained a strict silence on claims it had bombed Syrian targets.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it was “deeply concerned” after Damascus claimed a military research centre had come under Israeli fighter jet attack at dawn on Wednesday.


Prince William on first official royal visit to Occupied Territories and Israel

On his first official visit to Israel and Palestine, Prince William is unlikely to talk about politics. Getty Images
Updated 23 June 2018
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Prince William on first official royal visit to Occupied Territories and Israel

  • The second-in-line to the British throne is due to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
  • There is a pretty naked desire to build relationships and Israel is a warm target for an increase in trade

LONDON: Prince William will embark on the first official visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories by a member of the British royal family on Sunday.

But even with more than 120 Palestinians killed in protests in Gaza during recent weeks and controversy still surrounding the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, the second-in-line to the throne is not expected to talk politics.
Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), told Arab News that the four-day tour is likely to focus on making trade deals in preparation for Britain’s departure from the EU next year, rather than on addressing the moribund Middle East peace process.
“There is a pretty naked desire to build relationships and Israel is a warm target for an increase in trade,” he said.
The visit risks “normalizing” the abusive regime under which Palestinians live, he added.
“Of course Prince William has to go to both the Israeli and Palestinian sectors or there would have been outrage. But there is a risk of his visit making it appear more acceptable and normal to carry out abuses of international law like the blockade of Gaza,” Doyle said.
William begins his Middle Eastern tour on Sunday in Jordan, a long-time ally of Britain. On Tuesday he will move on to Jerusalem, where he will visit Yad Vashem, the official memorial to Holocaust victims, meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and later attend a football event with a mixed Arab and Jewish team.
On Wednesday he will meet young activists, both Arab and Jewish, who are involved in education and social programs, and also cross into the Occupied Palestinian Territories to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah before attending an event focusing on Palestinian refugees.
He is due to deliver a speech at a reception hosted by the American consul in Jerusalem. However, protocol prevents him from making any remarks that might be deemed partisan. Doyle told Arab News this was a pity in view of how William’s mother, the late Princess Diana, championed justice for the oppressed.
“It is a pity that someone of his status, who clearly cares about his mother’s legacy, cannot give voice to real major concerns about the treatment of the Palestinians and the human rights abuses that are daily issues for them under Israeli control but which will be airbrushed out,” he said.
“Yes, he will see co-operative programs and Arabs and Jews playing football together, but the reality is that the Palestinian footballers can only travel to matches with Israeli permission.”
William was a surprise choice for the visit. Many expected the task to fall to his father, Prince Charles, who has more experience of countries which are politically extremely sensitive. But it is thought he was chosen because his youth chimes better with young Israelis working in hi-tech fields who he is scheduled to meet. Among Palestinians, his presence will barely register, said Doyle.
“I hope the language can be found for him to say something to his Israeli hosts, that his visit will be more than window-dressing, but the reality is it’s very unlikely. So the visit won’t register as important with Palestinians. They don’t want to be part of some tourist show or box-ticking exercise,” he said.