Mass grave of Yazidis and Turkmen found in Tal Afar, Nineveh Province

Nineveh, Excavation of first mass grave in Kocho village, Sinjar district, March 2019 .Photo:Ibrahim Yazidi

Ibrahim Yazidi- Nineveh

Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR), with the help of the central government, started investigations into mass graves in Tal Afar district. Only in a mass grave, there are remains of a thousand Yazidi and Turkmen.

Examination and DNA testing have continued for several days, and the next phase would be the beginning of the excavation.

Ali Shammari, deputy head of IHCHR, said, “investigations continue for the mass graves containing victims murdered at the hand of ISIS,” and emphasized that the excavation should start soon, and they predict that it also contains bodies of the security forces.

In 2014, ISIS abducted nearly a thousand and 200 Turkmen of Tal Afar, including 120 children and 460 women. Likewise, during their rule in Mosul, they kidnapped another 100 people, according to data KirkukNow obtained from different institutions and organizations.

Tal Afar, whose inhabitants are Arabs and Shia Turkmen, is located 70 km western Mosul. ISIS took control of the district, which was later liberated in August 2017 by the Iraqi Forces.

Kahlid Qassem, whose father was abducted by ISIS, has information that ISIS killed his dad in a mass shooting.

“My dad was abducted in Sinjar, and after Tal Afar liberation, through the tribes of the district, we learned that he was shot dead and buried in a mass grave,” he said.

We learned that he was shot dead and buried in a mass grave

ISIS controlled Sinjar on August 3, 2014, and killed two thousand and 293 Yazidis. Still, fate of thousands of them remains unknown, according to statistics of General Doctorate of Yazidi Affairs at the Ministry of Religious Affairs of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

“After many attempts and collecting information, we knew that there is a mass grave in a village in Tal Afar. We visited the area so that the graves would be excavated, and we receive the bodies,” Qassem said.

Besides mass graves in Tal Afar, there are 80 mass graves found in the Sinjar region, according to the KRG.

Excavations of some mass graves started, including the one containing the bodies of the people of Kocho village, but later, the process stopped in March 2019.

Shammari mentioned that the excavation of Sinjar mass graves would resume. The mass grave in Tal Afar might be excavated earlier as it contains significant numbers of bodies.

Shammari added that searching to find all mass graves of the era of ISIS continues.

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