UN: Over 200 mass graves of Islamic State victims found in Iraq

This image released by the the Mass Graves Directorate of the Kurdish Regional Government shows a human skull in a mass grave containing Yazidis killed by Islamic State militants in the Sinjar region of northern Iraq in May, 2015. An analysis by The Associated Press has found 72 mass graves left behind by Islamic State extremists in Iraq and Syria, and many more are expected to be discovered as the group loses territory. (Kurdish Mass Graves Directorate via AP)

Baghdad ( – More than 200 mass graves containing the remains of thousands of victims have been discovered in areas formerly controlled by Islamic State in Iraq, according to a UN report released.

The UN mission to Iraq and the UN office for human rights released their findings in a report on Tuesday.

According to the report, 202 mass graves were discovered in the governorates of Nineveh, Kirkuk, Salahuddin and Anbar in the northern and western parts of the country.

“Evidence gathered from these sites will be central to ensuring credible investigations, prosecutions and convictions in accordance with international due process standards,” the report stated.

“Meaningful truth and justice requires the appropriate preservation, excavation and exhumation of mass grave sites and the identification of the remains of the many victims and their return to the families.”

Between June 2014 and December 2017, Islamic State seized large areas of Iraq and led “a campaign of widespread violence and systematic violations of international human rights and humanitarian law – acts that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and possible genocide,” the report added.

“The mass grave sites documented in our report are a testament to harrowing human loss, profound suffering and shocking cruelty,” said Special Representative for Iraq of the Secretary-General of the United Nations Ján Kubiš.

“Determining the circumstances surrounding the significant loss of life will be an important step in the mourning process for families and their journey to secure their rights to truth and justice.”

Kubiš said the report was aimed at supporting the Government of Iraq in protecting and excavating these mass graves, through the work of Iraq’s Mass Graves Directorate and its international partners.

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