Sunday, February 8, 2015
Mass graves of Yazidis found in northern Iraq
One of the mass graves. This one is near Khansour village, west of Sinuse.
The remains of 23 men from Iraq's Yazidi religious minority were found when a mass grave was excavated in northern Iraq, an official said on Saturday. It is the latest evidence of atrocities committed in areas held by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group to emerge since Kurdish forces pushed the jihadists back.
Meanwhile, the parents of an American hostage who ISIS claimed had been killed in a US-led coalition air strike have said they are "hopeful" she is still alive.
A team acting on a tip-off from a resident opened the mass grave near the village of Bardiyan on Friday, said Fuad Othman, a spokesman for the Kurdish regional government. Othman said those killed had been shot, and some had their hands bound.
A ditch where some 25 people were murdered was found farther south in Nineveh province on February 1, and Othman said dozens more bodies were believed to be in an another grave in the Hardan area.
ISIS spearheaded a militant offensive that began in northern Iraq last June and overran large parts of the country, before again turning its attention to the north in August, driving Kurdish forces back and seizing more territory in Nineveh.The jihadists carried out a campaign of killings, kidnappings, enslavement and rape against Yazidis and other minorities living in the area that the UN termed an "attempt to commit genocide."
The jihadist group, which declared a “caliphate” in areas under its control in Iraq and Syria, has also killed an untold number of civilians in both countries for opposing its rigid Salafi interpretation of Islam.
Backed by US-led air strikes, Iraqi Kurdish forces have made some gains in the region, driving ISIS back and retaking areas where the grave sites have been discovered.