Killing of opposition leader in Syria provokes Kurds

The New York Times reports: Tens of thousands of people poured into the streets of a Syrian city on Saturday for the funeral of a celebrated Kurdish opposition leader whose assassination the day before unleashed fury in the country’s Kurdish regions and threatened to open a new theater of opposition to President Bashar al-Assad’s rule.

The crowds attending the funeral of the Kurdish leader, Mashaal Tammo, a prominent figure who had escaped an attempt on his life only a month before, constituted some of the biggest gatherings in weeks in the nearly seven-month uprising against Mr. Assad.

Activists said at least five people were killed when security forces opened fire on the funeral in Qamishli, a city in northeastern Syria, igniting anger among a long restive Kurdish community that the government had tried to avoid provoking.

The government has demonstrated little political strategy in coping with the revolt so far, relying almost exclusively on violence since August, deepening opposition in virtually every region of the country, and provoking extended clans in eastern and southern Syria.

Yet picking a full-fledged fight with the Kurdish minority would add a new, dangerous facet to a revolt that has ebbed but remained resilient despite a crackdown that, by a United Nations count, has killed more than 2,900.

“My father’s assassination is the screw in the regime’s coffin,” said Fares Tammo, who spoke by telephone from the Kurdish city of Irbil in neighboring Iraq. “They made a big mistake by killing my father.”

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