2 mass graves found in Yazidi district of Iraq

In this August 11, 2014 photo, Yazidis walk toward the Syrian border on the outskirts of Sinjar mountain to escape violence from Daesh terrorists. Daesh militants killed thousands of Yazidis in Sinjar and kidnapped thousands of women and girls from the community to abuse them as sex slaves. (REUTERS/Rodi Said/File Photo)
Updated 03 December 2017

2 mass graves found in Yazidi district of Iraq

BAGHDAD: Iraqi paramilitary forces have uncovered two more mass graves containing the bodies of 140 civilians, including women and children, in an area home to the Yazidi religious minority, they said Saturday.
In 2014, Daesh killed thousands of Yazidis in Sinjar and kidnapped thousands of women and girls from the community to abuse them as sex slaves.
Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi paramilitary alliance said it had found “a mass grave with the bodies of 20 women and about 40 children in the village of Kabusi, south of Sinjar.”
Elsewhere, “in the Jazira residential complex, also south of Sinjar, 80 other bodies, mostly Yazidis, were discovered,” it said.
Kurdish fighters backed by the US-led coalition against Daesh captured Sinjar from the terrorists in November 2015 before Iraqi security forces took control of the region in October.
As government troops have advanced across Iraq they have uncovered dozens of mass graves holding hundreds of bodies in areas that fell under the militants’ brutal rule.
Iraqi officials said on Nov. 22 they had found a mass grave in Sinjar containing the bodies of dozens of members of the minority killed by Daesh.
Sinjar Mayor Mahma Khalil said that since 2015, around 40 mass graves have been discovered in the region and that “all the victims were Yazidis.”
The Yazidis are Kurdish-speaking but follow their own non-Muslim faith that earned them the hatred of the extremists of Daesh.


Syria regime forces on edge of key rebel-held town

Updated 25 min 22 sec ago

Syria regime forces on edge of key rebel-held town

  • Maaret Al-Numan is one of the largest urban centers in the northwestern province of Idlib
  • The regime and its Russian ally have escalated their bombardment against the militant-dominated region since December

BEIRUT: Syrian regime forces have reached the outskirts of a key city on the edge of the country’s last rebel-held stronghold, a monitor and a pro-government newspaper said Sunday.
The mainly deserted city of Maaret Al-Numan is a strategic prize lying on the M5 linking Damascus to Syria’s second city Aleppo, a main highway coveted by the regime as it seeks to regain control of the entire country.
It is one of the largest urban centers in the beleaguered northwestern province of Idlib, the last stronghold of anti-regime forces and currently home to some three million people — half of them displaced by violence in other areas.
The regime and its Russian ally have escalated their bombardment against the militant-dominated region since December, carrying out hundreds of air strikes in southern Idlib and the west of neighboring Aleppo province.
Over the past 24 hours, government ground forces have seized seven villages on the outskirts of Maaret Al-Numan, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said Sunday.
They have now reached “the edges of the city and are... within gunfire range of part of the highway,” it said.
Pro-regime newspaper Al-Watan reported that loyalist forces were “just around the corner” from the city, whose “doors are wide open.”
Idlib and nearby areas of Hama, Aleppo and Latakiya provinces are dominated by the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) militant group, led by members of the country’s former Al-Qaeda franchise.
The regime of President Bashar Assad has repeatedly vowed to reassert control over the whole of Syria, despite several cease-fire agreements.
An AFP correspondent says Maaret Al-Numan has become a ghost town.
Assad’s forces, which are also battling HTS militants in western Aleppo province, are backed on both fronts by Syrian and Russian air strikes.
The fighting has left dozens of fighters dead on both sides.
Since 1 December, some 358,000 Syrians have been displaced from their homes, the vast majority of them women and children, according to the United Nations.
A cease-fire announced by Moscow earlier this month was supposed to protect Idlib from further attacks, but the truce never took hold.
Aid agencies and relief groups have warned that further violence could fuel what may potentially become the largest wave of displacement seen during Syria’s nine-year-old civil war.
Syrian government forces now control around 70 percent of the country and Assad has repeatedly vowed to retake Idlib.