Exhumation of Alo Antar Mass Grave Begins in Tal Afar

“We have just seen this pit where ISIS shot many people. We ask that the Iraqi government exhume the bodies as soon as possible so that we could at least embrace our dead and put them to rest with dignity.”
The Alo Antar pit in Tal Afar where the mass grave has been exhumed. (Photo: Kurdistan24)
The Alo Antar pit in Tal Afar where the mass grave has been exhumed. (Photo: Kurdistan24)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - After ten years of waiting, the mass grave of Alo Antar in the town of Tal Afar in the Nineveh Plain will finally be exhumed.

Yazidi citizens are looking forward to uncovering the fate of their loved ones buried there, hoping this will alleviate their pain of loss to some extent.

The process to exhume bodies from one of the most notorious and largest mass graves of victims of ISIS terrorists, located near the town of Tal Afar, started on Tuesday.

A large number of Yazidi citizens have gathered around the vicinity of the Alo Antar pit, dressed in black and with heart-wrenching cries, fearing the worst as they wait to learn the fate of their family members.

Yazidi survivors near the mass grave site, waiting to know the fate of their loved ones. (Photo: Kurdistan24)

“We were first captured in Tal Afar and then transferred to Mosul. All my family members were still alive then. After nine months, they separated us; then they took us to Syria and we still don't know the fate of our young, men, and old people,” said Niso Elias, who was rescued from ISIS in Syria.

Alo Antar pit is one of the largest mass graves of ISIS crimes in Nineveh province. The relatives of the victims of ISIS crimes demand that the grave be exhumed as soon as possible and identification tests for the bodies of the victims be rapidly carried out.

Leila Shamo, another Yazidi woman whose relatives have been missing since ISIS terrorists invaded Sinjar in 2014, said, “We have just seen this pit where ISIS shot many people. We ask that the Iraqi government exhume the bodies as soon as possible so that we could at least embrace our dead and put them to rest with dignity.”

Hands of a victim, handcuffed, found during the exhumation. (Photo: Kurdistan24)
Hands of a victim, handcuffed, found during the exhumation. (Photo: Kurdistan24)

Ten years after the genocide of Yazidi citizens at the hands of ISIS terrorists, the Iraqi government and organizations have just begun to exhume the mass grave.

Due to the large number of bones of the victims, it is unknown how many bodies have been found in the Alo Antar pit.

"The number of victims has not been determined yet, but there have been reports in the media that there are hundreds of bodies in the mass grave, including women, children, youth, and the elderly. All were shot and then thrown into the pit," said Zedan Khalaf, an advisor to Iraq’s Prime Minister. "Therefore, we ask the relatives of the victims to conduct DNA tests to identify the bodies.”

A number of exhumed bodies from the Alo Antar Pit in Tal Afar. (Photo: Kurdistan 24)
A number of exhumed bodies from the Alo Antar Pit in Tal Afar. (Photo: Kurdistan 24)

Since the liberation of Mosul and the Nineveh Plain from ISIS, 61 mass graves have been excavated and about 240 bodies have been handed over to their relatives. Yazidi citizens may keep their eyes on the mass grave until the end of the excavation process.

The 15-meter-deep pit is located northwest of the city of Tal Afar. Witnesses say it is one of the largest mass graves of ISIS victims.

It is estimated that about 2,000 people were shot dead there. Although the excavation of the grave will be difficult due to a decade of rainwater and floods permeating the pit, the process is expected to be completed within four months.