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Iraq

Two Yazidi mass graves found near Sinjar, Iraq

Two mass graves containing the bodies of Iraqi Yazidis have been discovered near Sinjar in northern Iraq. Almost 30 such graves have been uncovered since anti-"Islamic State" forces retook Sinjar last year.

Two graves that each contained the bodies of nine Iraqi Yazidis suspected to have been killed by the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) militant group have been discovered in northern Iraq, located about 150 meters (492 feet) apart.

The graves were found in Um al-Shababik village, according to Sinjar Mayor Mahma Khalil.

Kurdish peshmerga forces found the graves while scouting the area. They contained bones and identity cards that appeared to have been covered over with sandy earth by a bulldozer.

With this discovery, 29 such graves have been found since anti-IS forces took Sinjar, the Yazidi's main urban hub in Iraq, back from IS. The number of graves discovered is expected to rise as IS militants are driven further back.

Watch video 02:20

Scores of IS victims buried in mass graves

At least 1,600 bodies discovered to date

IS militants killed, captured and enslaved thousands of Yazidis in 2014 as they gained control of the area. Khalil said at least 1,600 bodies are in the graves that have been discovered so far, and investigators with the United Nations have said actions by IS constitute genocide.

According to the Office of Kidnapped Affairs in Duhok, approximately 3,500 Yazidis still live in areas controlled by IS, many of them women and children.

The Yazidis are a religious sect that combine aspects of several ancient Middle Eastern religions, including Islam, Christianity and Zoroastrianism. They are considered devil-worshippers by the Sunni Islamist insurgents, including IS.

kbd/cmk (AFP, Reuters)

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