WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
The grief-stricken father of two refugee boys who drowned alongside their mother has buried them in Kobane, as it’s revealed 11 relatives were slaughtered by Islamic State militants in the war-torn city.
Aylan, three, his brother Galip, five, and mother Rehan died when their dinghy capsized as they tried to reach the Greek island of Kos in the dead of night.
Today, as their father Abdullah Kurdi accompanied their coffins to Syria, it emerged that 11 members of their family were murdered by terrorists in June.
Crowds gathered in Kobane as the bodies of the two young refugee boys and their mother completed their final journey.
Mr Kurdi flew from the coast to Istanbul and then onto the Turkish city of Urfa.
Speaking to the Dogan news agency at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, he still appeared to be in shock.
‘As a father who lost his children, I want nothing for myself from this world,’ he said. ‘All I want is that this tragedy in Syria immediately ends and peace again reigns.’
The family is being buried at a place known as Martyrs’ Ceremony in the city.
With the burial, Abdullah Kurdi abandoned any plans of leaving his homeland again.
‘He only wanted to go to Europe for the sake of his children,’ said Suleiman Kurdi, an uncle of the grieving father. ‘Now that they’re dead, he wants to stay here in Kobane next to them.’
Local journalist Mustefa Ebdi, who attended the funeral service, said: ‘Aylan, his brother, and his mother were buried today in Kobane in front of a large crowd. Everyone was very sad and crying.’
The journalist said Mr Kurdi ‘looked broken and numb’ as he addressed a gathering of hundreds.
‘I don’t blame anyone else for this. I just blame myself,’ Mr Kurdi told the mourners. ‘I will have to pay the price for this the rest of my life.’
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.
Mr Ebdi said he told the boys’ father, ‘the world is standing with you’, but the Mr Kurdi said he had nothing left in the world to live for.
Today the boy’s grandfather, Sexo Seno Kurdi told Newsweek: ‘Only a few months ago we lost 11 family members and now this. Now my daughter and grandchildren are also fallen martyrs for Kobane.’
Among those killed in June were some of the boys’ second cousins and their partners, as well as their great-aunt. Some were shot in their homes.
Islamic State fighters battled for four months to seize Kobane last year, but Kurdish fighters backed by US-led air strikes regained control in January in a symbolic defeat for the jihadists.
In June, ISIS fighters attacked their city, detonating a suicide bomb and battling Kurdish forces in the streets.
Civilians and Kurdish fighters were killed as the terror group attacked the town on three sides after reportedly coming across the border from Turkey.
This morning, a group of alleged people traffickers – one weeping uncontrollably – arrived at a court in Bodrum after being arrested on suspicion of organising the fateful journey.
One man wept as he was taken into the courthouse, while another, Hassan Ali Salih, clutched his mother, Zehra Salih, who came to support him.
She broke down in tears and begged for help, explaining her son was innocent. Ms Salih said her husband had been killed in the Syrian conflict and her son was just desperate to flee to safety.
Another man, Mustafa Halil, looked at the floor as he walked into the courthouse.
His mother Meliha Halil said he was not involved in the trafficking and was himself trying to get to Europe. They will face a judge at 1.30pm local time.
The four defendants sat outside the courtroom and spoke animatedly with friends and family as their mothers cried this morning.
A spokesman for the court in Bodrum said: ‘They have not been charged yet – we are taking statements from them today.
‘They will appear later but it will be a closed hearing not open to the press. This is entirely normal under Turkish law.’
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