A mass grave believed to hold the bodies of dozens of women executed by ISIS was found Saturday in Iraq’s Sinjar, where Kurdish forces are clearing bombs the extremists left.
Kurdish regional president Massud Barzani announced the “liberation of Sinjar” Friday, a day after the launch of a major ground operation to drive out ISIS that ended in not only a military victory for him, but a political one as well.
The bombs must be removed before the northern town’s mainly Yazidi residents, from a minority group who were targeted in a brutal ISIS campaign of massacres, enslavement and rape, can return to begin rebuilding their lives.
And with the town retaken, new evidence of the extremists’ horrific abuses against Yazidis is beginning to emerge.
Officials found the site of the mass grave based on information from young women enslaved by ISIS who claimed to have witnessed the execution of dozens of Yazidi women before later escaping.
Miyasir Hajji, a local council member, told AFP the grave on the edge of the town, which has not yet been excavated, is thought to contain the bodies of 78 women aged from 40 to around 80.
“It seems that the (ISIS) terrorist members only wanted young girls to enslave,” Hajji said, referring to the extremists using women as sex slaves who can be bought and sold.
Mahma Khalil, the local official responsible for the Sinjar area, confirmed that the mass grave had been found, and estimated it held some 80 victims.
Daesh terrorists captured Sinjar in August last year in an offensive that forced thousands of Izadis to flee to a mountain near the town. They were surrounded by the Takfiris there.
On Thursday morning, Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces and Izadi fighters launched a ground operation to push the Takfiris out of Sinjar, situated over 400 kilometers (250 miles) northwest of the capital, Baghdad.
President of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Massoud Barzani announced on Friday that the northern town was liberated after battles with the Daesh terrorists.
Following the town’s liberation, Iraqi Kurdish forces started to clear bombs planted by Daesh terrorists in Sinjar so that Izadis could return to the town.
“Until now, we defused 45 bombs and a car bomb,” said Sulaiman Saeed, a member of Peshmerga forces who works in explosives disposal, on Saturday adding, “Bombs are widespread in houses.”
The northern and western parts of Iraq have been plagued by violence ever since Daesh began its terror activities through the Iraqi territory in June 2014. Army soldiers and Popular Mobilization Units have joined forces, and are seeking to take back militant-held regions in joint operations.