Muslim extremists tortured and repeatedly raped a Christian woman for over nine hours before stoning her to death in the Syrian province of Idlib, a disturbing new report has revealed.
According to persecution watchdog International Concern, 60-year-old Suzan Der Kirkour, a gardener and Arabic teacher, was found dead on July 9 outside her village, al-Yaqoubiyeh, which is located just north of the jihadist stronghold of Jisr Al-Shughour.
An autopsy report found that Suzan was tortured and raped over the span of nine hours before being stoned to death.
The incident was confirmed by humanitarian organization 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.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported 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.
The attackers are believed to be members of the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group, formerly affiliated with al Qaeda, which maintains a strong presence in the Idlib governorate.
Al-Yaqoubiyeh is a Christian village, but most of the women have left because of ongoing persecution at the hands of Muslim extremists. Suzan was one of the few Christians still living in the jihadist-held areas in northern Syria.
Claire Evans, ICC’s regional manager for the Middle East, condemned the killing and called her untimely death and the manner of her murder “horrifying.”
“It further deepens the shadow which has fallen upon any Christians who have remained in Syria throughout nearly a decade of violent conflict,” she said. “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.”
The ongoing Syrian civil war – now in its ninth year – has forced the majority of the country’s Christians to flee. Prior to the war, Christians made up approximately 10% of the population. An estimated 370,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the war.
Last year, President Donald Trump vowed to withdraw all U.S. ground troops from Syria, drawing criticism from conservative evangelicals who argued that a “full” and “rapid” withdrawal of U.S. troops could put Christian communities in Northern Syria in “mortal danger.”
Syria ranks 11th on Open Door USA’s World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most persecution.