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Funeral for Syrian rebel icon sparks controversy among Turkish opposition

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A funeral held in Turkey’s Hatay province for Syrian rebel icon Abdel Basset al-Sarout, 27, sparked criticism from the Turkish opposition, which accuses the former Syrian footballer of affiliation with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terror group.

Al-Sarout, the former goalkeeper of the Syrian youth national team, joined the armed rebels at the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011, quickly becoming an icon for the “revolution.”

After he was wounded in clashes near the Syrian city of Idlib, he was brought to Turkey’s Hatay province for treatment; however, he only survived until Saturday.

Following his death, a group of Syrians in Hatay held a symbolic funeral before his body was sent to back Syria.

Opposition deputy Barış Atay submitted a parliamentary question on Monday in which he claimed that ISIL supporters attended the funeral.

According to Turkey’s left-wing media outlets, al-Sarout has promoted the genocide of Alawites in Syria.

Al-Sarout denied being affiliated with ISIL but “admitted he had considered the idea when ISIL seemed the only force strong enough to combat the government,” BBC reported.

Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Tülay Hatimoğulları on Monday criticized the Turkish government for allowing the funeral.

A group of Turks who commemorated the 44th anniversary of a 2015 Ankara terrorist attack that was claimed by ISIL also criticized al-Sarout’s funeral.

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