The father of a three-year-old Syrian boy whose body washed up on a Turkish beach in an image that shocked the world returned Friday to his hometown of Kobane in Syria to bury his family.
Abdullah Kurdi arrived at the Turkish border town of Suruc with the funeral caskets of his three year-old son Aylan, other young son Ghaleb and wife Rihana who all drowned while trying to reach Europe across the Aegean Sea.
A car carrying the father and the caskets entered Kobane and returned to Turkey while a convoy of journalists and activists was stopped at the border.
The father had earlier flown from the site of the tragedy on Turkey’s Aegean coast to Istanbul and then to the southeastern Turkish city of Urfa.
Speaking to the Dogan news agency at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, the father appeared to be still 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.”
Kobane is a mainly Kurdish town that became a battleground in the struggle between Kurdish militias and Islamic State jihadists for control of northern Syria in the country’s four-year civil war.
Kurdish forces finally ousted IS fighters from Kobane after a months-long struggle in January but the the militants returned to stage deadly attacks there in June.
Twelve Syrians drowned Wednesday when two boats sank in Turkish waters as they were heading towards the Greek island of Kos, in the latest tragedy involving refugees.
In an image that quickly became a viral symbol of the tragedy of refugees, three-year-old Aylan was seen face down on a beach in the resort of Bodrum after the family’s boat sunk while on its way to the Greek island of Kos.
A local journalist on the Syrian side of the border said that preparations were under way to bury the Kurdi family members as “martyrs of Kobane who lost their lives to flee the war.” Some members of Turkey’s parliament also crossed into Kobane to attend the funeral.
In another interview with Dogan Thursday, Abdullah said his children had slipped through his hands as their boat was taking in water.
Dogan published a new picture of Aylan Friday, showing the boy sleeping on the beach just six hours before they began their sea voyage.