Syrian Christian woman brutally tortured and murdered in Idlib
A body of a retired Syrian-Armenian schoolteacher was discovered by locals in Idlib province, the White Helmets said on Friday, with activists saying the woman was brutally tortured for hours before her murder.
Sixty-year-old retiree Suzan Dirkerkur - also spelled Der Kirkour - lived in the Christian village of Yacoubiya, near Jisr al-Shighour in opposition Idlib province, where she was a keen gardener and volunteer at a local church.
She had worked as an Arabic teacher before she retired, where she lived with a small number of other Christian Syrians in the Idlib village before her murder.
"A shocking discovery was made of the body of the beloved and respected school teacher, Susan Dirkerkur, who was killed in a farm in Yacoubiya village near Jisr al-Shighour City," the White Helmets confirmed on Friday.
"Our teams responded to calls from the community and transferred her body to the forensic medical clinic, which confirmed that the teacher had been violently murdered with a sharp object."
The Syrian civil rescue team said they would provide all possible assistance in the hunt to find Dirkerkur's killers and called for an investigation into her murder.
The White Helmets shared an image showing its workers covering a body outside a villa.
Christian groups had earlier reported Dirkerkur's murder saying she was abducted by militants on Monday evening, repeatedly raped and then stoned to death with her body discovered in a field early Tuesday morning.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights earlier this week confirmed the circumstances surrounding Dirkerkur's horrific murder.
"Her body was found with marks of torture on it. And according to forensic medicine, the woman had been tortured for about nine hours before she was stoned to death by unidentified persons," the observatory reported.
Christian groups have blamed former Al-Qaeda-linked elements from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which controls Idlib province.
The more hard-line Al-Qaeda aligned Huras Al-Din jihadi faction are also active in the Jisr al-Shighour region of Idlib.
Yacoubiya is one of the few remaining Christian villages in opposition areas, although activists have said that most have locals left the region after hardline factions took over Idlib.
Christians took part in the early anti-regime protests in Syria, which were brutally suppressed by Bashar al-Assad's forces, with some even taking up arms as part of the Free Syrian Army.
Most of Syria's Christian minority have remained neutral in the conflict, despite the calls of some leading clerics to support the regime.