Mourning Syrians show their respect and support for Asad
JNN 24 Dec 2011 Beirut : Funerals for the 44 victims of twin car bombs in Damascus turned into a strong display of support on Saturday for President Bashar al-Assad, hailed by crowds of mourners who denounced the United States and its Arab allies for interfering in Syria.
Thousands of people in the Syrian capital took part in funerals for the 44 people killed in twin suicide bombings that struck Damascus.
Mourners carried coffins draped in Syrian flags into the eighth-century Omayyad Mosque in downtown Damascus on Saturday.
The United Nations expressed grave concern over the bombings, which marked an ominous escalation in the violence that has rocked the Arab nation for the past nine months, claiming at least 5,000 lives.
Syria said Al-Qaeda terrorists were behind the attacks. There has been no claim of responsibility.
In Cairo, Sudanese General Mohammed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi said he would go to Damascus on Saturday to assume his role as head of an Arab League monitoring mission which is intended to fan out over the country and verify an armistice.
The first batch of about 50 monitors is expected to travel to Syria on Monday. Assad opponents say the mission will only be used as a foil to gain time while government security forces advance their drive to smother the revolt.
“I am optimistic that the mission of the monitors will be successful and that events such as yesterday’s blasts in Damascus will not affect the mission,” Dabi told reporters.
“Our blood for Bashar”
Thousands of Syrians chanted “Death to America” during the funeral processions in Damascus, cheering Assad, calling for revenge and denouncing Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani who has become one of Assad’s main Arab 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, draped 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.” Syria’s state TV carried a live broadcast.
Sunni Muslim cleric Mufti Ahmad Hassoun said he hoped the bloody bombings would remove the “the veils on the eyes of the Arab League … so that they see who is the murderer and who is the victim.”
Al-Qaeda are Sunni militants. Assad and Syria’s power elite belong to the Alawite branch of Shia Islam while the majority of Syrians, including protesters and insurgents, are Sunnis.
The UN Security Council condemned the attacks.
“Terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, and … any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable,” it said in a statement.