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Monday, 12 June, 2000, 20:28 GMT 21:28 UK
A funeral from palace to village
Map
The funeral procession will end in the village of Qardaha
The funeral on Tuesday of Syria's President Assad will begin as a state event in Damascus attended by world leaders and will end in a popular ceremony in his hometown Qardaha, a normally sleepy village 200km (125 miles) away.

Qardaha will be the final resting place for President Assad, who died on Saturday after three decades of rule.

The president will be buried in the family plot, near the grave of his eldest son Basil, who died in a car crash in 1994.
Palace
Foreign dignitaries will pay their respects at the presidential palace

The funeral will start at about 0800 local time (0500GMT), with Mr Assad's coffin being carried by gun carriage to historic Umayyad Square, in the centre of Damascus, for public mourning. The square has been packed with mourners since Saturday, and many thousands of people are expected to turn up.

About two hours later the body will be taken on a gun carriage to the presidential People's Palace, for the official lying-in-state.

The president's body will be displayed for about five hours in the white-marbled palace during which Syrian officials and foreign dignitaries will pay their respects.

Assad's son Bashar, who is set to take over, will receive official condolences at the palace.

Village's preparations

In mid-afternoon, the journey to take the president's body to Qardaha will begin. The coffin will be taken by gun carriage through the streets of Damascus to Mezzeh military airport.

It will be flown to Hmemim airport in the northern port of Lattaqieh, from where a gun carriage procession will take it to Qardaha.
Crowd in Damascus
A young mourner is overcome with grief

The 30km (18 mile) road along which the body will be taken is expected to be lined with hundreds of thousands of mourners.

The president will finally be laid to rest after dusk prayers at the Na'asah mosque, which is named after the late president's mother.

Qardaha village was busy preparing for the funeral on Monday with the village being cleaned and decorated.

Some official buildings were being painted and extra telephone and electricity lines being laid.

Marquees have also been set up around nearby roads to accommodate the huge number of mourners expected to arrive.

Security has been also tightened with police patrolling the area.

Dignitaries

Among the foreign dignitaries expected at the funeral are nine heads of state, although only one is from the west - French President Jacques Chirac.

The list of those to attend the ceremony so far includes:

  • French President Jacques Chirac
  • US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
  • British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook
  • President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt
  • Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah
  • Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat
  • Iranian President Mohamad Khatami
  • Jordan's King Abdullah II
  • Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh
  • Lebanon's President Emile Lahoud
  • The Emir of Kuwait, Jaber al-Ahmed al-Sabah
  • President Umar al-Bashir of Sudan
  • Japan's Foreign Minister Yohei Kono
  • Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy
  • Canadian External Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy
  • South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Zuma
  • Austria's President of the National Assembly Heinz Fischer
  • The Vatican's "foreign minister" Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran
See also:

11 Jun 00 | Middle East
10 Jun 00 | Middle East
11 Jun 00 | Media reports
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