Mass grave of suspected ISIS victims including children found in Syria

Some victims appeared to have been handcuffed and blindfolded, local authorities say

Civilians walk near Syrian government forces stationed on the front line in the countryside of Syria's northern city of Manbij, located near the border with Turkey. AFP
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A mass grave of suspected victims of ISIS that includes two children has been discovered by Kurdish forces in northern Syria.

“At least 29 bodies, including those of a woman and two children, have been found in a mass grave” near a hotel in Manbij, said an official with the Kurdish-affiliated Manbij civilian council, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

ISIS had turned the hotel into a prison when it ruled the northern city between 2014 and 2016. The Syrian Democratic Forces, a largely Kurdish militia backed by the West, pushed ISIS out of Manbij in August 2016.

The mass grave was unearthed on Wednesday by municipal workers who were doing work on the sewage system, the Manbij military council said.

Some of the victims appeared to have been handcuffed and blindfolded, it said.

The military council said it was unclear when they were killed, but that it had occurred when ISIS ruled Manbij.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said the remains are believed to belong to people abducted by ISIS fighters.

Dozens of mass graves have been found in Iraq and Syria but the identification process is slow, costly and complicated.

ISIS seized large parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014, declaring a “caliphate” and killing thousands before the intervention of a US-led coalition in support of Iraqi forces and Syrian-Kurdish militias helped defeat the group.

One of the biggest reported ISIS mass graves contained 200 bodies and was discovered in 2019 near Raqqa, the group's former de facto capital in Syria.

Rights groups have repeatedly called on Kurdish authorities and the Syrian government to investigate the fate of thousands who went missing during ISIS rule.

The missing include British reporter John Cantlie and Italian Jesuit priest Paolo Dall'Oglio.

Syria's civil war, which erupted in 2011 after a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests, has killed nearly half a million people and forced about half of the country's pre-war population from their homes.

Updated: July 28, 2022, 2:54 PM