The father of a three-year-old boy whose drowning off Turkey shocked the world buried his son, another child and his wife in an emotional funeral Friday in Syria’s Kobane, a witness said.
“Aylan Shenu, his brother, and his mother were buried today in Kobane in front of a large crowd. Everyone was very sad and crying,” said local journalist Mustefa Ebdi, who attended the funeral service.
According to Ebdi, the three Syrian Kurds, who had tried to reach Greece by boat from Turkey, were buried in Kobane’s Martyrs Cemetery.
Three-year-old Aylan, four-year-old Ghaleb and their mother Rihana drowned off the Turkish coast on Wednesday while trying to reach Europe across the Aegean Sea.
The father, Abdullah Kurdi, survived, and “looked broken and numb” as he addressed a gathering of hundreds, Ebdi said.
“I don’t blame anyone else for this. I just blame myself,” Abdullah told the mourners.
“I will have to pay the price for this the rest of my life,” said the devastated father.
He said his children were only a few of the many victims of Syria’s four-year conflict and pleaded for a “solution to the tragedies” gripping his country.
Ebdi said he told Abdullah “the world is standing with you” but the grief-stricken father said there he had nothing left in the world to live for.
“What do I want with the world. I’ve paid the highest price,” Ebdi quoted Abdullah as saying.
Abdullah arrived earlier in the day to the family’s ancestral home of Kobane from Turkey.
A car carrying him and the three caskets entered the mainly Kurdish town where mourners had gathered for the funeral.
Kobane was the scene of fierce fighting between Kurdish militias and Islamic State group jihadists for control of northern Syria in the country’s civil war.
Kurdish forces ousted IS fighters from the town after a months-long struggle in January.
Abdullah’s family was displaced several times inside Syria and had returned to Kobane in June but IS fighters re-entered the town holding hostages in several buildings in a two-day stand-off that left more than 200 civilians dead.
The family then decided to try to reach Europe from Turkey, Ebdi said.
Turkish media had identified the family’s surname as Kurdi, a possible reference to their ethnic background, but Ebdi said the actual family name was Shenu.