In Aleppo, the dead await final resting place
"Doors and gravestones were also pillaged and several graves were opened."
By Josué Villalón
NEIGHBORHOOD of Sheikh Maqsood sits on a hill on the north-western outskirts of
Aleppo. It was the site of fierce battles between Kurdish troops and various
Islamist militia. The Kurds eventually prevailed. And even today Kurdish troops
block civilians and even Syrian security forces from entering the area.
is also home to a number of Christian cemeteries serving various Churches. They
are located on at the foot of Jabal Al-Saydé
(Mountain of St. Mary). They have been closed for years—with some of them
damaged by bombs or looting.
Meanwhile, there are many dead still awaiting their proper burial. “We would
like to give our dear departed a dignified and sacred burial,” said Father
Moses Alkhassi, vicar general of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo and
Alexandretta, whose territory extends across Syria and Turkey.
were dropped on our cemetery, which destroyed large parts of it,” he told
international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). “Doors and
gravestones were also pillaged and several graves were opened,” he added.
archdiocese has suffered greatly: we have lost several churches. Furthermore,
at the very beginning of the war, our Metropolitan Boutros Yazigi was kidnapped
together along with the local Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim. We still don’t know where the two of them are,” the priest
The number of
Christians from all denominations that are still awaiting a dignified burial in
the various cemeteries totals 2461. Up until now, their mortal remains have
been interred on a piece of property that was provided by the Syrian
government. It costs about $45 to exhume and re-bury the remains of one person.
ACN has agreed
to provide close to $50,000 to repair cemeteries, in particular the Greek
Orthodox cemetery—which sustained the most damage—and to arrange for the transfer
to Jabal Al-Saydé of the remains of all Orthodox and Catholic Christians of
various rites who died in Aleppo between April 2013 and December 2016.
Greek Orhodox cemetery of Aleppo; ACN photo