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Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraq have found two mass graves in north-western Iraq, Reuters reports. At least 18 bodies of people from Iraq’s Yazidi minority were found inside the graves underneath the loose earth, which appeared to have been filled in by a bulldozer.
The graves, located at a junction halfway between the cities of Sinjar and Tal Afar, reportedly contain bones and identification cards of the victims. Since IS began targeting the Yazidi people, the number of Yazidi mass graves total 29, with the mayor of Sinjar estimating, at least, 10 more to be uncovered. Based on collated evidence, The Associated Press reports that there are, at least, 72 mass graves in Syria and Iraq.
These findings are a blunt reminder of the atrocities committed against the Yazidi people by the IS, from the extremist organization’s rise in mid-2014 to the present. They have been tortured and killed mercilessly by IS and were, recently, reported to have been used as human shields during the battle to retake Mosul. The Sunni extremist group considers the Yazidi people to be unforgivably evil, due to a belief system based on a combination of ancient religious ideologies. Reuters estimates that at least 3,500 Yazidi are thought to be still living in Islamic State-held territories, out of the 400,000 today.
Further down the road, past Tal Afar, the Battle of Mosul rages on as the Iraqi government, Kurdish Peshmerga, and a Western coalition fight to take back the suffering city from IS.
The UN has reportedly described the IS’ actions against the Yazidi as ‘genocide’ and countless human rights breaches have been recorded. Specifically, executions, murder, sexual slavery, massacres, forced starvation, and victims being buried alive have been named as part of the seemingly endless list of atrocities committed by the IS. At least 7,000 have been forced to convert to the extremist version of Islam practiced by the IS.