Months after the last Islamic State (ISIS) banner fell in Iraq, over 200 mass graves containing an estimated 12,000 victims of the terror group’s reign have been uncovered in the northwest region of the country.
In a joint report released Tuesday, the U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq and its human rights office detailed the unearthing of 202 sites scattered throughout Nineveh, Kirkuk, Salahuddin and Anbar governorates in western Iraq.
Among the dead include women, children, elderly, disabled, Iraqi police and security personnel, but the report did not detail ISIS’ preferred method of execution.
“The mass grave sites documented in our report are a testament to harrowing human loss, profound suffering and shocking cruelty,” said Ján Kubiš, the U.N. Secretary General’s special representative for Iraq.
The graves containing the corpses range from comprising as few as eight bodies to as many as 4,000 found in the al-Khasfa sinkhole. A majority of the sites identified are in Nineveh, once a ISIS stronghold and site of Mosul, the terror group’s de-facto capital.
Although the total number of bodies has yet to be established, U.N., and Iraqi investigators and forensic technicians have only thoroughly exhumed 1,200 bodies from 28 sites. U.N. officials fear more mass graves could be located in the near future.
Between June and December 2014, the orthodox Islamic group overran large swathes of Iraq, imposing strict Sunni rule, declaring conquered regions part of its so-called caliphate.
During its domination over parts of Iraq, the jihadist group routinely terrorized the population, particularly targeting Christians, Shi’a Muslims, Yazidis and other ethnic and religious minority groups.
[BBC] [Rudaw] [Photo courtesy Reuters/Stringer via CNN-News18]