Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Islamic State’s Deadly Legacy, Mass Graves In Iraq

The Islamic State has left behind a trail of death in Iraq. Well known are the corporal punishments it gives people who disobey its rules in conquered cities like Mosul. It has also carried out mass killings of members of the security forces such as at Camp Speicher after it took Tikrit in June. The extent of these murders is not known as it controls plenty of territory that is off limit to the government, journalists and human rights groups. One thing that has emerged is the discovery of a number of mass graves throughout northern and central Iraq, many coming after IS was pushed out of an area. They leave behind just a hint at how many lives the insurgents have taken.

Since the June 2014 insurgent offensive 23 mass graves have been found in Iraq. The first was in Humaidiyat near Mosul in Ninewa where 600 bodies of inmates from Badush prison were discovered on June 10. Militants took over the facility after the fall of Mosul and told the prisoners they were now free. Instead they were put into trucks, taken out into the desert and summarily shot. That type of mass killing would be repeated throughout Ninewa and other provinces in the following days, weeks, and months. In the fall government forces began going on the offensive and reclaiming territory lost in the summer. After each area was cleared mass graves were soon found. At the end of August Amerli in Salahaddin was freed. In the aftermath 24 bodies of people executed by IS were uncovered. An operation was begun at the start of September to clear Suleiman Bek, Salahaddin, which revealed 30 bodies. Jurf al-Sakhr, Babil was cleared at the end of 2014 leading to 20 executed people being found. In December militias and the peshmerga pushed IS out of Sadiya and Jalawla in northeast Diyala. That led to seven graves being discovered with 307 people in them including 17 peshmerga. On December 24 three graves were uncovered with 250 bodies in them alone. The Islamic State targeted the Yazidi community for extermination in Ninewa. After parts of Sinjar were recovered 73 Yazidis were found in three parts of Sinjar and Zummar. In total, 1,680 civilians, members of the Iraqi Security Forces and peshmerga have been recovered across Anbar, Babil, Diyala, Kirkuk, Ninewa and Salahaddin.  

Mass Graves Discovered In Iraq 2014-2015
Humaidiyat, Ninewa
600 Badush prisoners
Iskandiriya, Babil
Amerli, Salahaddin
Barzak, Ninewa
Suleiman Bek, Salahaddin
Mosul, Ninewa
Badush, Ninewa
50 ISF
Akbai, Diyala
Hardan, Ninewa
Amiriya Fallujah, Anbar

Jurf al-Sakhr, Babil
Jalawla & Sadiya, Diyala
250 in 3 graves
Hawija, Kirkuk
40 Shabaks
Mosul, Ninewa
21 Christians
Outside Mosul, Ninewa
320 in 5 graves
Koubashi, Diyala
Sadiya, Diyala
Sadiya, Diyala
26, 11 Peshmerga in 2 graves
Sinjar, Ninewa
30 Yazidis
Jalawla, Diyala
6 Peshmerga

Sinjar, Ninewa
27 Yazidis
Zummar, Ninewa
Zummar, Ninewa
16 Yazidis

The Islamic State targeted all groups in Iraq. That included all ethnic groups from Arabs to Kurds, and all religious groups from Shiites to Sunnis to Christians to Yazidis to Shabaks. In certain situations it tried to destroy entire communities. Worse yet, more examples of this devastation will be found in the future as IS losses more territory. This reign of death has devastated Iraqi society and created more divisions than probably in any other time in recent history. Instead of bringing all of these victimized groups together it has atomized the country. Dealing with this legacy will be the real test for Iraq after the insurgency has been turned back. Can all these groups find common cause having been victimized by IS or will they continue down their own paths, which will sometimes include the thirst for revenge and more killings?


AIN, "Mass grave seized western Mosul," 2/2/15

Alsumaria, "Found a mass grave containing the remains of 30 bodies east of Tikrit," 9/11/14
- "Raise the bodies of civilians who were executed by Daash from a mass grave northeast of Baquba," 12/3/14

Awara, Omar, "Kurdish Shabak Mass Grave Found in Mosul," Bas News, 12/26/14
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Coles, Isabel, "Iranians play role in breaking IS siege of Iraqi town," Reuters, 9/1/14,

Dolamari, Mewan, "500 Bodies Found in IS Mass Grave in Northern Iraq," 9/10/14

eKurd, "Iraqi Kurdistan News in brief - January 21, 2015," 1/21/15

Human Rights Watch, "Iraq: ISIS Executed Hundreds of Prison Inmates," 10/30/14

Iraq Times, "Mass grave found of women in Mosul forest area," 10/6/14

Jaffe, Greg, "In Amerli, an unusual alliance defeated Islamic radicals. Don't count on that lasting," Washington Post, 9/5/14

Kurd Press, "Mass graves with 320 bodies discovered near Mosul," 1/8/15

Al Mada, "Found a mass grave containing remains of 25 victims of Daash in Saadia," 1/16/15

Al Masalah, "A mass grave with the remains of 23 people in Zammar," 2/5/15

Millet, "Peshmerga and Yazidi Mass Graves Found," 2/4/15

NINA, "Islamic State executes 31 police officers in Nineveh refused to cooperate with them," 9/10/14
- "Mass grave found north of Babil," 12/22/14
- "Mass Grave, includes 50 Bodies of Police and Soldiers, Found In Badush, West of Mosul," 11/22/14

Radio Nawa, "Discovery of a mass grave contianing 70 bodies of executed Yazidis by Daash in Sinjar," 12/20/14

Al Rayy, "Found a mass grave containing the remains of Christians in Mosul," 1/6/15
- "Found a mass grave for the victims of terrorism north of Babylon," 6/23/14

Today Online, "Second Yazidi mass grave unearthed in Iraq this week," 2/7/15

Yacoub, Sameer, "Iraq Authorities Find 16 Bodies in Mass Grave," Associated Press, 1/14/15

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