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Iraq resumes exhumation of mass graves in Sinjar

Iraq resumes work to exhume two mass graves near Solagh and Kojo villages in Sinjar district containing the remains of victims of the Islamic State (ISIS) militant group in Nineveh governorate on October 24, 2020 (NRT Digital Media)
2020-10-24

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SULAIMANI — Head of the Mass Graves Directorate of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Ministry of Martyrs and Anfal Affairs Sirwan Jalal said on Saturday (October 24) that work has started in order to exhume two mass graves near Solagh and Kojo villages in Sinjar district containing the remains of victims of the Islamic State (ISIS) militant group.

According to officials, there are approximately 85 to 90 bodies total in the two graves.

The exhumation process is being conducted by the federal government’s Mass Graves Directorate within the Martyrs’ Foundation, in coordination with a delegation from the KRG, the UN Investigative Team for Accountability of Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD), and the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), according to the Ezidi advocacy group Yazda.

The relevant authorities “will continue the exhumation work started last year and excavate the last and 17th mass grave in the village of Kocho, Sinjar and will begin the exhumation of the mass grave in Solagh, containing the remains of [Ezidi] elderly women executed by ISIS,” Yzada said.

“Work is planned through mid-November and will result in the transportation of the remains to the mortuary of the Martyrs Foundation in Baghdad, where the identification process will resume. The medico-legal team of the Martyrs Foundation will collect DNA samples of family members in the coming days,” the group’s statement added

ISIS militants swept across the district in early August 2014 and committed a genocidal campaign against the Ezidi community. In 2019, 17 mass graves were exhumed, which contained the remains of 230 people.

In November 2018, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) announced that more than 200 mass graves had been discovered in areas liberated from ISIS, which experts believe contain the remains of between 6,000 and 12,000 victims.

Located in northwestern Nineveh governorate, Sinjar is part of the disputed areas, which are claimed by both Baghdad and Erbil.

(NRT Digital Media)