ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi authorities on Thursday uncovered two mass graves in the province of Salahuddin containing the remains of victims believed to have been executed by the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
“Our specialized teams will carry out a preliminary technical inspection of the mass grave in Ishaqi area – Salahuddin Province. We believe it belongs to the victims of al-Qaeda terrorist attacks from 2007,” Iraq’s Mass Graves Protection Department said in a press release.
They added the new grave would be included in their 2019 excavation plans and that technical and legal procedures to begin the work have been completed.
The department also mentioned another mass grave had been detected in the province’s Jami’a district.
The statement noted that, based on a preliminary inspection of the remains and bodies visible on the surface, the mass grave likely belongs to the victims of crimes committed by the Islamic State in 2015.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) last November asserted that, in total, 202 sites of mass graves had been discovered in Iraq containing thousands of bodies, a crime for which they hold the Islamic State responsible.
Out of this number, 69 mass graves contain the remains and bodies of people from the Yezidi (Ezidi) religious minority, a group that has considerably suffered at the hands of the Islamic State.
Militants of the jihadist group subjected Ezidi women and girls to sexual slavery, kidnapped children, forced religious conversions, executed scores of men, and abused, sold, and trafficked women across areas they controlled in Iraq and Syria.
A Ezidi official recently told Kurdistan 24 that the first mass grave belonging to victims from their minority group is expected to be unearthed on March 14, under the supervision of the United Nations.
Editing by Nadia Riva