Kurdish Forces Find Yazidi Mass Grave in Iraq’s Nineveh

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Monday, February 2, 2015

Kurdish forces found the remains of about 25 members of the Yazidi minority killed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) jihadist group in a mass grave in northwest Iraq, officials said Monday.

"Peshmerga forces discovered a mass grave yesterday (Sunday) containing the remains of about 25 people — men, children and women — from the Yazidi (sect) who were killed by" ISIS jihadists, local official Myaser Haji Saleh told AFP.

A peshmerga lieutenant colonel said the grave was found near Sinuni during a search for explosives often left behind by ISIS, posing a threat to security forces and civilians even after they withdraw.

"Our forces were searching for explosives and mines planted by (ISIS) in the area and found the grave during the search," the officer said.

Some of the victims had been shot dead and others "slaughtered" using knives, he said.

In January, ISIS freed about 200 mostly elderly members of northern Iraq's Yazidi minority whom it had held captive for months.

In August, UN rights monitors called for the global community to take urgent action to avoid a potential genocide against the Yazidi community in Iraq.

Moreover, rights group Amnesty International said in December that many Yazidi women and girls forced into sexual slavery by ISIS have attempted or committed suicide.

ISIS has targeted Yazidis and other minorities in north Iraq in a campaign that Amnesty said amounted to ethnic cleansing, murdering civilians and enslaving others for a fate that some captives consider even worse than death.

ISIS spearheaded a June offensive that began in the northern province of Nineveh, where the mass grave was discovered, and overran large areas north and west of the Iraqi capital.

In early August, the Kurds joined the battle against ISIS after the group took control of the country's largest dam and moved within striking distance of Erbil, capital of Iraq's Kurdistan region, making the city a more prominent target for militants.

Despite the successful advances against ISIS, the Iraqi army and pro-government fighters still face major challenges in the battle against the jihadist group, which holds large areas of the country, including the key cities of Mosul, Tikrit and Fallujah.

Since ISIS emerged in its current form in 2013, it has captured large swathes of territory in both Syria and Iraq.

It has declared an Islamic "caliphate" in territory under its control, and gained a reputation for brutality, including executions and torture.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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