Middle East

Syria funeral held for pro-Assad actor Mohammed Rafia

Mohammed Rafia speaks on television
Image caption The family of Mohammed Rafia say they received his bullet-riddled body on Sunday

The funeral has been held in Damascus of a well-known Syrian-born Palestinian actor, believed to have been killed by rebels because of his support for President Bashar al-Assad.

The funeral for Mohammed Rafia was held at a military hospital in the capital with soldiers carrying his coffin.

He had gone missing from the north-eastern Barzeh area on Friday night.

Mr Rafia's family received his body on Sunday. They said there were bullet wounds in the head, neck and shoulder.

The 30-year-old actor had become well-known across the Arab world for his role in a TV series about Syria under French colonial rule.

That, though, was several years ago when Syrian TV was challenging Egypt and Lebanon with the quality and popularity of its shows and films.

But since the uprising against Mr Assad began last year, he became known for something else - his very public support for the Syrian leader.

On YouTube, Mr Rafia can still be seen backing the Syrian government line in eloquent English that the protesters and opposition fighters are nothing but terrorists.

That is why he was killed - both his friends and enemies say.

Image caption His funeral was held at a military hospital in the capital with soldiers carrying his coffin

An extremist rebel group says it killed him, though this cannot be verified.

Opposition sources accuse him of passing information to the government. Some even say he was a member of the feared shabiha - the paramilitaries that have carried out many atrocities in the name of the government.

Other opposition groups have distanced themselves from his killing.

His family and friends say he simply wanted peace and hated the killing on both sides.

His death is another sign of the abyss of personal hatred and violence into which Syria has fallen.