ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – As the United Nations’ dedicated team continues the exhumation of Yezidi (Ezidi) mass graves near a village in the ethnoreligious minority’s homeland of Sinjar (Shingal) District in northern Iraq, it unearthed the remains of 16 more bodies on Thursday, a member of the team said.
A village of about 1700 people, Kojo was the site of the worst massacre of the Ezidis at the hands of Islamic State when it swept through Iraq in 2014, killing over 400 men and taking hundreds more women as captives.
The village is located about 16 kilometers south of Shingal city’s center and contains eleven mass graves believed to hold hundreds of bodies of Ezidis whom the terrorist group executed en masse.
On March 15, the federal government of Iraq, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), and the United Nations Investigative Team for the Promotion of Accountability for Crimes Committed by ISIS (UNITAD) marked the beginning of national efforts to unearth the first mass grave of Ezidis killed by the Islamic State in Aug. 2014.
By mid-April, the Iraqi government’s teams, aided by UNITAD’s experts, had recovered 26 bodies, with security issues halting the process on occasion, forcing the work to be limited to sites of relative safety.
“Fifteen bodies were discovered in one location and the other one was alone,” Raed Falah, a member of the unearthing team said on Thursday. “They were lifted out by the mass grave opening teams.”
Falah went on to say that work would continue on Friday to recover other remains they had located at the site. He also claimed that the team had been fired upon while working, causing them to operate only on one site for the time being.
Since the start of the campaign in March, the teams have exhumed the bodies of 68 Ezidis, Falah claimed.
Editing by Nadia Riva