The bodies of 39 Yazidi victims, who were killed in the 2014 Islamic State (ISIS) attack on Sinjar (Shengal) in northern Iraq, have been handed over to their families, the Nineveh (Neynewa) Forensic Medicine Directorate announced on Monday.
A number of mass graves containing the remains of Yazidi people have been discovered in the district of Sinjar in the governorate of Nineveh since the ISIS attack on the Yazidis there. The Iraqi authorities are actively engaged in the exhumation of these graves and the process of identifying the deceased.
Nineveh’s mass grave excavation team, led by the Directorate of Forensic Medicine, has successfully retrieved the remains of victims from one of the graves.
Following DNA testing conducted in collaboration with local authorities in Sinjar, all 39 sets of remains have been returned to their respective families.
The ISIS attacks on Yazidis in northern Iraq in 2014 resulted in the seizure of Yazidi territory and the enslavement of around 7,000 Yazidi women and girls who were subjected to sexual slavery.
Thousands of Yazidis were massacred, displaced or faced execution if they refused to convert to Islam.
Many sought refuge in the Sinjar mountains, enduring starvation and dehydration. Eventually, with the assistance of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as well as multinational rescue operations and humanitarian aid, around 50,000 Yazidis were able to escape the ISIS siege.
ISIS was driven out of the area in 2015, but thousands of Yazidis are still missing. The UN recognised the massacre as genocide in 2016, a designation also subsequently acknowledged by the European Parliament and a number of European states.