Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians Wednesday mourned PLO military commander Khalil al-Wazir when he was buried in a cemetery at Syria's largest refugee camp.
Al-Wazir, 52, better known as Abu Jihad, was assassinated Saturday by commandos who burst into his home in suburban Tunis. Israeli sources have said Israeli security forces carried out the attack. There has been no confirmation by the Israeli government.The Palestinian leader's coffin, draped in a Palestinian flag, was carried by a gun carriage from the morgue at Mouwasat Hospital to the Martyrs Cemetery at Yarmouk refugee camp.
The mass funeral was attended by al-Wazir's mother, wife and five children and top Palestinian Liberation Organization figures.
PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi, who were said to be on their way to Damascus to attend the funeral, did not attend. But Palestinian officials said they expected Arafat and Gadhafi to arrive later in the day.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians marched behind al-Wazir's coffin when it left the hospital before noon under heavy Syrian protection.
Thousands of other Palestinians, chanting slogans and flashing "V" for victory, stood on both sides of the road as the convoy drove across Damascus' main thoroughfare.
"You are the martyr of the uprising," shouted the marchers, referring to the 4 1/2 months of Palestinian rioting in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Al-Wazir, born in Ramleh in what is now Israel, became a key aide and comrade-in-arms to Arafat, and some observers saw him as the guerrilla leader's heir apparent.
A close aide to al-Wazir said Abu Jihad was the leader of the Palestinian uprising in the occupied territories.