International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on July 8, 2019, an Armenian Christian woman living in the Syrian Governorate of Idlib went missing. Suzan Der Kirkour was 6o years old and her body was found the next day just outside of her village, al-Yaqoubiyeh. An autopsy revealed that Suzan was tortured and repeatedly raped over an estimated period of nine hours. She was then stoned to death.
The incident was confirmed by SOS Chrétien's d'Orient, which wrote in a statement that "cruel was her ordeal. The reality is just as much... (a) virgin at sixty, she died under the repeated assaults of the jihadists of al-Nusra."
"The autopsy reveals that Suzan had been subjected to repeated rape since the afternoon of Monday (the 8th) until early Tuesday morning, only hours before her discovery. As a martyr, she is joined in heaven by thousands of Christian brothers, who died in the arena of barbarism," continued the statement.
Suzan was a gardener and Arabic teacher. Although retired, she often volunteered at the Kneye Village Church where she helped youth achieve their baccalaureate. The church was concerned by Suzan's absence, and it was parishioners who found Suzan's body.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also verified the incident. "Her body was found with marks of torture on it. And according to forensic medicine, the woman had been tortured for about 9 hours before she was stoned to death by unidentified persons," read the report.
It is widely reported among locals that Suzan's attackers were members of the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group, which maintains a strong presence in Idlib Governorate. Al-Yaqoubiyeh is a Christian village, but most of the women have left because of violent aggression from the terrorists. Some estimate that only 18 women, including Suzan, were living in the village.
The Syrian Civil War has raged for eight years, opening the door for Islamic extremism to take a strong foothold. Jabhat al-Nusra is the Syrian offshoot of al-Qaeda. They and many other terrorist groups are active in Idlib Governorate, which was supposed to provide a safe haven for internally displaced persons.
Instead, the governorate has become center stage for the Syrian conflict. Most Christians have fled the country, although they made up approximately 10% of the population prior to the war.
Claire Evans, ICC's Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, "Suzan was a pillar in her community. Her untimely death and the manner of her murder is horrifying. It further deepens the shadow which has fallen upon any Christians who have remained in Syria throughout nearly a decade of violent conflict. Rule of law, justice, and accountability must be restored in Syria. Otherwise, we are witness to the slow, but fierce, extermination of Christianity from a country where it has existed for over 2,000 years."