Remains of 23 Yazidis found in Iraq mass grave

Members of the Yazidi sect look for the remains of their relatives in a mass grave on the outskirts of the town of Sinjar, February 3, 2015. (File photo: Reuters)

Officials in northern Iraq unearthed on Saturday the remains of 23 men, believed to be members of Iraq’s Yazidi religious minority, buried in a mass grave, Agence France-Presse reported.

A team opened the grave, which was found near the village of Bardiyan based on a tip from a local resident, on Friday, Fuad Othman, a spokesman for the Kurdish regional government, told AFP.

It is the latest evidence of atrocities committed in areas held by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group to emerge since Kurdish forces pushed the militants back.

A team acting on a tip-off from a resident opened the grave near the village of Bardiyan on Friday, said Fuad Othman, a spokesman for the Kurdish regional government.

Othman said those killed had been shot, and some had their hands bound.

A ditch where some 25 people were murdered was found farther south in Nineveh province on February 1, and Othman said dozens more bodies were believed to be in another grave in the Hardan area.

ISIS spearheaded a militant offensive that began in northern Iraq last June and overran large parts of the country, before again turning its attention to the north in August, driving Kurdish forces back and seizing more territory in Nineveh.

The militants carried out a campaign of killings, kidnappings, enslavement and rape against Yazidis living in the area that the U.N. termed an "attempt to commit genocide."

Backed by U.S.-led air strikes, Iraqi Kurdish forces have made significant gains in the region, driving ISIS back and retaking areas where the grave sites have been discovered.

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Last Update: 06:45 KSA 09:45 - GMT 06:45
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