Project Description

While exact figures are hard to establish, Syria became a gigantic, devastated graveyard. This is most evident in places, where the militant jihadists victimised not only the living – as if destroying, raping and massacring were not enough – but also the dead. During the barbaric war in Syria, the Greek Orthodox cemetery located at Mount Sayda in Aleppo was severely damaged.

Al-Nusra Front turned its savagery on the dead, tearing down graves and smashing tombs at a hilltop cemetery in Aleppo. Claiming that gravestones and tombs are idolatrous the militants reduced this cemetery to large piles of rubble. They pulled the stone monuments over and smashed the gravestones into pieces. Tomb doors and gravestones were also pillaged and several graves were opened. ISIS stole what appeared to them to be valuable. Furthermore the graveyard also suffered from bombing which destroyed a group of niches which still contained coffins. The destruction
of Christian cemeteries was part of a broader attempt to erase all trace of the Christian presence in the region.

“We would like to give our dearly departed a dignifed and sacred burial,” said Moses Alkhassi, Vicar General of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo and Alexandretta, which extends across Syria and Turkey.

Restoring the cemeteries is not the only thing that needs to be done. It is also necessary to ensure that those who died during the last four years of the war, while the cemetery was still being occupied by armed terrorist groups, are laid to rest. Believing in the resurrection of the body, Christians traditionally care for their cemeteries in order to pray for the souls of the faithful departed, for members of their families. Syrian cemeteries bear witness to the war – as war brings death. They bear silent testimony to the persecution of Christians and the cruelty of jihadists and, although silent, they nonetheless cry out: “Never again!”