It's a year and five months after Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution launched the region-wide Arab Spring uprisings that overturned four governments and now threaten to topple the regime of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.
At least five Tunisians have been killed this month in the revolution – the Syrian revolution, that is. A sixth may also be dead.
All are from the southeastern Tunisian town of Ben Guerdane, along the border with Libya, and the families of five have already received anonymous phone calls about their sons, confirming their deaths.
A video eulogizing the men with a music bed of Qu'ranic verses was posted on Facebook, stating the “martyrs” were killed in Homs. The black flag of the Al Qaeda terrorist organization was seen on the video as well.
But the bodies were not returned to the families, and no other proof of their deaths was provided. Their families said that all were devout Sunni Muslims, and at least two were jailed for links to Islamist radicals.
According to a Syrian envoy to the United Nations, 26 “Arab fighters” were arrested and “confessed” to Al Qaeda sympathies, Reuters reported. Of those, another envoy to the U.N. said 19 were from Tunisia.
A security source in Ben Guerdane confirmed to the news agency “There are some youths who are going to Syria via Ben Guerdane. They are religious... What we know is that more than 10 left from here.”
Relatives of the five who were killed in Homs defended the right of their sons to die in holy martyrdom.
But one, Mokhtar Mars, pointed out to Reuters that dying for the cause in Homs may not be the same as jihad elsewhere: “If there was a real jihad, don't imagine a single Muslim would not go -- if it was a jihad against Israel. But in Syria, you may have to fight other Muslims.”