Officials in Iraq's north say they've found a mass grave containing the remains of over 100 people killed by "Islamic State." It's said to be the sixth such find near Sinjar since the town was retaken from the group.
Another grave of more than 50 Yazidis killed by 'Islamic State' fighters was found near Sinjar on November 15
At least 113 members of the Yazidi minority were found in the bomb-rigged grave about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from Sinjar, district chief Mahma Khalil said Saturday. He said the victims appeared to have been shot dead in mass executions.
"Islamic State" (IS) overran Sinjar in August 2014, sending thousands of Yazidis fleeing into the mountains. Many also stayed behind, where the militants subjected them to enslavement, rape and execution. IS considers Yazidis, who follow a religion that predates Islam, as apostates deserving of death. The United Nations has described the attack on the Yazidis as a possible genocide.
Khalil said the grave site was booby-trapped with a number of bombs, which had to be defused by experts. It is yet to be properly excavated.
A local woman who escaped from the militants two months ago told German news agency DPA that she expected her male relatives' bodies to be found there.
"The day that they occupied our village...they took all the men, young and old alike, to the valleys nearby and we heard heavy gunfire for several minutes," she said. "They came back with bloodstains on their clothes and they took us women and children to Tel Afar and then to Raqqa in Syria."
Sixth mass grave
The US launched airstrikes in Iraq on August 8, partly in response to the IS assault on the Yazidis in Sinjar. Since then, a US-led coalition of countries has conducted airstrikes across Iraq and in Syria in an effort to destroy the terror group.
On November 13, Kurdish forces and Yazidi units backed by coalition strikes drove IS out of Sinjar. Mahma Khalil told AFP the latest mass grave is the sixth to be discovered near Sinjar since the town was recaptured.
The bodies of up to 80 Yazidi women, aged between 40 and 80, were unearthed in another grave discovered in the area earlier this month. One official said the victims may have been executed because they were deemed too old to enslave.
nm/rc (AFP, dpa)