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Islamic State 'buried thousands in mass graves'

Date of publication: 30 August, 2016

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Thousands are buried in mass graves in territories held or recaptured from the terrorist group Islamic State

Seventy two of the mass graves that the Islamic State extremists have left behind have been documented by The Associated Press in exclusive interviews, photos and research

AP says its efforts mark the most comprehensive survey so far, "but many more (mass graves) will likely be found as IS retreats".

In Syria, AP obtained 17 mass grave locations, including one with hundreds of bodies from a single tribe.

Total, the number of dead ranges from 5,200 to well over 15,000.

Scraped earth shows the likely site at Badoush Prison near Mosul, where more than 600 inmates died, according to exclusive satellite photos from the imagery intelligence firm AllSource Analysis.

IS militants were punished for such atrocities at least once, according to AP, in the deaths of about 1,700 Iraqi soldiers machine-gunned at Camp Speicher. On August 21, 36 men were hanged for those killings.

Iraqi and Kurdish forces recapturing areas from IS have often uncovered mass graves, including in Ramadi and Sinjar.

Iraqi police unearthed in April two mass graves in the western city of Ramadi, with bodies of about 40 people killed by Islamic State militants during the militant group's reign of terror in the city.

The officials said IS militants who were captured and arrested after Iraqi forces routed the extremists from the Anbar provincial capital led authorities to the site of the mass graves, inside the city's soccer stadium.

The UN uses the term mass grave to refer to a location where three or more victims of what the world body defines as extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions are buried
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Bodies of women and children were among those found in the two graves, along with bodies of men in civilian clothes, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to reporters.

In December, the UN human rights office in Iraq said it received reports of 16 mass graves discovered near the town of Sinjar after it was liberated from the Islamic State group the previous month.

Among the first mass graves uncovered in Sinjar - within days of IS forces being pushed out of the town - was one near the town's center that has been estimated to contain the bodies of 78 elderly women, and another, about 15 kilometers (10 miles) outside of Sinjar, with between 50 and 60 bodies of men, women and children.

The UN uses the term mass grave to refer to a location where three or more victims of what the world body defines as extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions are buried - not those who have been killed in combat, attacks such as bombings or armed confrontation.


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