Workers pull an unidentified body at a mass grave in Raqqa, Syria October 16, 2018. Picture taken October 16, 2018..
(photo credit: ABOUD HAMAM / REUTERS)
A mass grave in Syria has been uncovered, and at least six bodies in orange “execution suits” transferred for forensic analysis, according to reports.
The mass grave is one of more than a dozen that have been found since ISIS was pushed out of Raqqa in 2017. This grave, just south of the Euphrates river across from the city, contains up to 800 bodies.
Jenan Moussa of Al-Aan TV tweeted images of the bodies being found and uncovered. “Search team here found bodies of five men wearing orange ‘execution suits’ in ISIS mass grave. Identities unknown. Team leader tells me: Might be missing journalists, activists,” she tweeted on July 3. A sixth body clothed in the same way was later found.
Moussa wrote that all of the bodies were dressed in the orange suits that became infamous in videos from 2014, when ISIS executed journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley that fall. The bodies found are all men and they had handcuffs on. All were shot in the back of the head. This precludes them being among those who were beheaded by ISIS.
Yasser al-Khamees, who leads a team that has been uncovering the mass graves, said that this grave was first found in June. The men “were believed to have been killed more than two years ago,” he told a group of reporters. The bodies of three women, apparently stoned to death, were also found. “Their skulls were severely fractured and displayed signs of stoning,” France 24 reported. According to the report, up to 800 people could be in this grave.
Moussa reported that the five men found were estimated to be between 25 and 55 years old. She says that 200 bodies have been uncovered so far. The area of the location is called Mu’askar al-Tala’e; they will be reburied in another location.
Victims in orange execution suits have been found in two other locations, but many of the well known victims of ISIS have not been found. They form but a small number of the thousands still missing since the jihadist group arrived in 2014. For instance, around 3,000 Yazidis are still missing after ISIS attempted to commit genocide and enslave the minority group in that August. Moussa tweeted that authorities in Raqqa have found 4,600 bodies in 14 mass graves so far. “Over 3,500 not identified.” She notes that they aren’t all necessarily victims of ISIS; some may be members or the group or their families who died during the war between 2014 and 2017.
In Iraq, more than 200 mass graves have been found, some of them containing Yazidis and Shi’ites that ISIS murdered.
Whether they are victims, perpetrators or civilians, the mass graves are an example of the horrors to which this part of Syria and parts of Iraq were subjected.
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