By Chris Sommerfeldt: ISIS’ self-proclaimed caliphate in Syria and Iraq is shrinking by the day, with Turkish forces intensifying airstrikes and the U.S.-backed coalition launching large-scale operations aimed at eradicating the terrorist group from border towns.
But with its shrinking territory, a gut-wrenching truth has surfaced from the bowels of ISIS’ reign of horror: 72 mass graves holding as many as 15,000 of the terrorist group’s victims.
An extensive Associated Press survey released Tuesday documents the horrific findings.
Many of the graves have yet to be excavated as they are in territories that remain too dangerous to visit and the staggering death figure — based on memories of traumatized survivors, ISIS propaganda and empirical findings — might in fact be a lot higher.
One of the 17 graves discovered in Syria holds the bodies of hundreds of members of a single tribe close to completely exterminated when ISIS violently took over their region.
The Sinjar Mountain in Iraq is the location of another horrifying discovery.
Roughly 70 people of the Yazidi tribe — one ISIS has condemned as made up of “devil worshippers” — tried to flee their Sinjar homes before ISIS invaded in August 2014.
The large group sought refuge at a farm outside the town of Tel Azer where they thought they would be safe from the extremists.
Only four men managed to flee a massive firing squad citing passages from the Quran as they ruthlessly executed dozens of Yazidi tribe members. The group’s 35 teenage girls and young women were abducted and haven’t been seen since.
“They don’t even try to hide their crimes,” said Sirwan Jalal, the director of a local agency helping to tally the mass graves. “They are beheading them, shooting them, running them over in cars, all kinds of killing techniques, and they don’t even try to hide it.”
AP’s survey concludes on an even scarier note than it started on: “This is a drop in the ocean of mass graves expected to be discovered in the future in Syria.”