Satellite images show the shocking extent of the industrial-scale murder carried out by ISIS as researchers mapped out 72 mass graves across Iraq and Syria containing thousands of bodies.
Aerial photos offer the clearest look yet at massacres such as the one at Badoush Prison in Mosul, northern Iraq that left 600 male inmates dead.
A patch of scraped earth and tire tracks show the likely killing site, according to pictures obtained by the imagery intelligence firm AllSource Analysis.
One prisoner, who survived by playing dead, revealed how ISIS butchers forced hundreds to kneel on the edge of a ravine and started shooting with a machine gun before one fanatic said ‘we’re going to eat well tonight’.
The Associated Press says it has documented and mapped 72 mass graves with many more expected to be uncovered as ISIS territory shrinks.
In Syria, AP has obtained locations for 17 mass graves, including one with the bodies of hundreds of members of a single tribe all but exterminated when IS extremists took over their region.
For at least 16 of the Iraqi graves, most in territory too dangerous to excavate, officials do not even guess the number of dead.
In others, the estimates are based on memories of traumatised survivors, Islamic State propaganda and what can be gleaned from a cursory look at the earth. Still, even the known victims buried are staggering – from 5,200 to more than 15,000.
Sinjar mountain is dotted with mass graves, some in territory clawed back from IS after the group’s onslaught against the Yazidi minority in August 2014; others in the deadly no man’s land that has yet to be secured.
AP describes how one man crouched in a creek for hours listening to the men in his family die during one massacre.
We see clear evidence of the intent to destroy the Yazidi people,’ said Naomi Kikoler, who recently visited the region for the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.
‘There’s been virtually no effort to systematically document the crimes perpetrated, to preserve the evidence, and to ensure that mass graves are identified and protected.’
Then there are the graves still out of reach. ISIS atrocities extend well outside the Yazidi region in northern Iraq.
Of the 72 mass graves documented by AP, the smallest contains three bodies; the largest is believed to hold thousands, but no one knows for sure.
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