'Huge' mass grave found in former IS capital Raqqa

'Huge' mass grave found in former IS capital Raqqa
The total number of civilians killed by the Islamic State group is not known, but regional authorities have found a number of mass graves since the area was liberated.
2 min read
23 June, 2020
Thousands of people were arrested or forcibly disappeared under IS rule [Getty]
A "huge" mass grave was found on Monday near the former Islamic State group stronghold of Raqqa in northeastern Syria, authorities said.

"Forensic reports confirmed the mass grave around the village of Hazima, north to Raqqa, contains bodies, mostly women and children, in addition bodies belonging to unknown military groups," a Raqqa Civil Council official told the Syrian North Press Agency.

The grave is thought to contain around 110 bodies in total, said Yasser al-Khamis, head of the council's Initial Response Team.

The team has exhumed around 5,900 bodies from 26 mass graves around Raqqa since 2018. 

One such grave was found last week in the village of Tel Zidan, Khamis said, where authorities have so far retrieved 160 bodies.

The Islamic State group seized control of Raqqa in 2014, making it the capital of its so-called caliphate. 

The city was later liberated by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in October 2017 after an intensive bombing campaign by the US-led international coalition.

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The total number of civilians who were killed by the extremist group during their rule over Raqqa and other areas of Syria and Iraq is not known.

The Violations Documentation Center (VDC) has recorded 5,350 civilians deaths in Raqqa between 2011 and 2019, 518 of them by IS.

The fate of many more remains unknown.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) has documented more than 8,000 cases of people detained by IS whose status remains unknown.

In April, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) that governs many of the areas captured from IS announced the creation of a new committee to investigate the fate of thousands of people detained and forcibly disappeared by the extremist group.

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