Hardly a day goes by in Syria without some incident of assassination. For many of these killings, motives can be inferred with high or considerable confidence, such as when the Islamic State claims assassinations of local officials working with the Syrian Democratic Forces, or when personnel of Syrian government forces are targeted in the southern Syrian province of Deraa. Many other incidents however are obscure in their circumstances and attempts to deduce motives will likely remain somewhat speculative. Perhaps the latest example to add to the latter category is the case of Hikmat Haddad of the village of Kukku in the Jabal al-Summaq region of northern Idlib province. He was killed earlier today (1 August).
The murder of Hikmat is not the first incident of its kind in Kukku: in March 2021, Mansur Hajiz and his wife were murdered, though apparently this was because they had found a thief in their house and the thief thus killed them. In Hikmat's case, he was reportedly killed with three bullets by men riding a motorcycle on the Kukku road beside the village.
Hikmat's life can be seen as an embodiment of the simplicity of life of many of the inhabitants of Jabal al-Summaq. He was aged 34, and had no university qualifications. He was not of the notables of the village, but rather a simple man of the village who made his livelihood as a shepherd. He was married and had three children, while his parents are currently outside Jabal al-Summaq. He was known as a humble and simple man: he had no known personal enemies in Kukku or elsewhere.
Was he killed by opportunistic criminals? Or was he targeted by some more extreme elements in Idlib, operating outside the framework and system imposed by Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and the Salvation Government and declaring takfir on the original inhabitants of Jabal al-Summaq because of their Druze origins, in contrast with HTS' position that the inhabitants have 'entered' into Islam? These are questions that are inevitably speculative in nature, unless the perpetrators are caught and held to account. We can only hope for the latter, for the sake of Hikmat's family and the people of Jabal al-Summaq.