Shiite forces control mass grave sites in Yezidi areas of Shingal
Iraq’s Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitaries have discovered 10 mass graves in areas they recently captured from ISIS militants in the Shingal region. These areas previously have been inaccessible to families of the victims, as well as local and international investigators. Rudaw’s Tahseen Qasim in Shingal reported that the Hashd al-Shaabi located three mass graves in the Siba Sheikh Khidir complex in the south of Shingal and another two in the Girzirgski complex. Qasim added five more mass graves were also discovered in Kocho village. Representatives of the Kurdistan Regional Government have used satellite imagery to identify many areas that likely contain mass graves; however, because of safety concerns and political differences, Kurdish investigators have been unable to go actually to the sites on the ground even when survivors like Yezidis provide testimony and evidence. A Yezidi member of the Iraqi parliament announced yesterday through a statement on the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) website that Yezidis will soon open an online repository for the documentation of ISIS atrocities. “We will launch an online museum in the near future in order to be able to document all the atrocities committed against our community,” Vian Dakhil wrote in the statement. “Everyone could send their stories to the museum and their evidence will officially in one of the documenting agencies in the world will be registered”. Kocho, the hometown of the UN Goodwill Ambassador Nadia Murad, is a symbol of ISIS atrocities against Yezidi people. It is 18 kilometers south of Shingal town. Some 4,000 Yezidis used to inhabit it. When ISIS militants attacked Shingal and its surroundings in August 2014, they arrested thousands of Yezidis, many from the village of Kocho. Some of them were collectively killed in the village, other girls and women were sold or taken by ISIS members. The fates of thousands of Yezidis still remain unclear. “There have been over 40 mass graves found in Sinjar. I am horrified by the thought of the remains of six of my brothers in those graves, along with 700 other Yazidis who were summarily executed on the 15th of August 2014,” Murad said earlier this week. She partially laid the blame on the international community for what happened against the Yeizids by ISIS, explaining that in the period before the group besieged Kocho — prior to the massacre — Yezidis had asked for help. “Kocho is one of the capital crimes of 21st century”, she added. “It is with this in mind that I ask the liberating and security forces to preserve all findings, so there will be living evidence of the Islamic State crimes forever”. Shiite forces force announced it had reached the Syrian border on Monday. The Hashd al-Shaabi “made a miracle in the month of Ramadan” with their arrival at the Syrian border, Hadi al-Amiri, the secretary general of the Badr Organization, an influential military wing within the Hashd al-Shaabi, stated in an announcement published on their website. Last week the force declared it had cleared the town of Qairawan and its 13 villages and complexes, of which many were predominately Yezidi.