CSW has learned that a Syrian Christian woman was murdered in Idlib Province after being repeatedly raped, tortured and stoned.
The body of Susanne Der Krykor was discovered on 9 July 2019 at her home in the Christian village of Yaqubya in the Idlib countryside. She is one of a few Christians who decided to remain in their homes in Yaqubya and Qnayeh villages after the region was taken over by jihadist groups such as Noussra Front (the Syrian branch of al Qaeda) and the Turkistan Islamic Party, which comprises ethnic Uyghur jihadists from China fighting in Syria.
Susanne Der Krykor was a retired teacher of Armenian heritage in her early 60s who volunteered most of her time to teach children Arabic language and other subjects, assisting them in their exam preparations. Those who knew her have praised her integrity, bravery and resilience. Ms Der Krykor regularly attended a weekly women’s meeting at the village’s church and her body was discovered when the local priest sent someone to check on her when she did not turn up for the meeting.
A coalition of jihadist groups took over Idlib in 2015 after defeating Syrian government forces and imposed Shari’a law on all residents, prompting an exodus of Christians from the region. According to an Orthodox priest who used to lead a church in Idlib, less than 200 Christians remain, compared to approximately 10,000 before 2015.
In 2017, an internal fight between the jihadist coalitions broke out, resulting in the defeat of Ahrar Al-Sham, the Syrian jihadi group and a complete take-over by Noussra Front and its ally the Turkistan Islamic Party. The feud between Noussra Front and Ahrar Al-Sham was fuelled by the competition to control resources and border crossings, as well as ideological disagreements regarding the relationship with al Qaeda and the universality of jihad. Ahrar Al-Sham’s main focus has been on Syria only rather than on global jihad.
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “We extend our heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and community of Susanne Der Krykor. This heinous crime is emblematic of the violations being perpetrated against innocent civilians by the extremist groups that have overrun parts of Syria. We call on Russia, Turkey and the rest of the international community to find a sustainable political solution to the Syrian conflict, ensuring that vulnerable communities are provided the protection they so desperately need. It is imperative that the future constitution of Syria conforms to international law and upholds the rights of all Syrian citizens, regardless of their ethnicity, creed or religion.”