AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Published — Thursday 31 January 2013
Last update 1 February 2013 1:22 am
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.