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News 13 Jan 14

Fifth Macedonian Albanian Reported Killed in Syria

Another Macedonian Albanian has been reported to have died in the fighting in Syria, increasing the number of Macedonian citizens killed during the violence there to at least five.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic BIRN Skopje

Rebels in Aleppo, Syria | Photo by: Wikimedia Commons

Twenty-two-year-old Alim Osmani from Skopje died several days ago while fighting with a rebel group against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Albanian-language media in Macedonia have reported.

“He fought hand in hand with the Syrian Liberation Army and was not part of Al-Qaeda groups. They won’t return his body,” a relative of Osmani was quoted as saying to Portalb.mk.

Osmani reportedly joined the Syrian resistance last summer.

About a month ago, in a message to his mother, he wrote on his Facebook profile that he was not going to return from Syria and that his faith was in God’s hands.

Osmani is the fifth Macedonian citizen who has reportedly been killed in Syria. Some unofficial reports say that more than 300 Albanians from the country might have already joined Syrian rebels.

But the Macedonian authorities say they do not have the complete picture.

“It is impossible to know for sure how many Macedonian citizens are taking part or have been killed or injured in the Syrian conflict. All we have is the information that is shared with the media,” the Macedonian foreign ministry told Balkan Insight.

Macedonian law forbids citizens from taking part in foreign paramilitary groups. If evidence exists that some of them fought in Syria, they could face trial in Macedonia.

However, experts have suggested that the bulk of Balkan fighters in the Syrian conflict are being recruited in western Europe and that they are getting into the country through Turkey.

Local ethnic Albanian analysts have insisted that the Macedonian citizens fighting in Syria are not mercenaries, nor are they linked with terrorist organisations.

“This is solely about individual, human and religious solidarity,” Ramadan Ramadani, from the Institute for Free Thinking, NISMA, a think tank, said in August last year.

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