05/09/2016, 09.19
IRAQ - SYRIA
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UN: Over 50 mass graves found in areas taken from Islamic State control

United Nations special envoy, Jan Kubi, speaks of "evidence of heinous crimes" committed by jihadi militias. Daesh cannot be just "militarily" eradicated, instead "the root causes" of violence needs to be addressed. Humanitarian crisis in the country worsens with at least 10 million people depending on aid.

Baghdad (AsiaNews / Agencies) – More than 50 mass graves have been found so far in various parts of Iraq that were taken from Islamic State (IS). The most recent ones were uncovered in April in Ramadi, about 110km west of Baghdad, and contain up to 40 bodies.

The grim news was revealed by UN special envoy Jan Kubis who, in his report to the United Nations Security Council, spoke of "evidence of heinous crimes" committed by jihadi militias.

The mass graves have emerged in recent months in the territories wrested from Daesh [Arabic acronym for the Islamic State] during the Iraqi army advance.  At the height of their expansion, IS had taken control of almost half of Iraq.

Reporting to the Security Council, Kubis stressed that the international community should "take all necessary measures" to ensure that militiamen jihadists are held to account for the crimes committed.

The Iraqi army won Ramadi from IS control in December 2015; the city was in the hands of the Sunni Islamic fundamentalist movement since May of that year. Some outbreaks of violence continued until February 2016, when the area returned totality under government control.

Other graves have emerged in the past in Sinjar in northern Iraq, near Anbar in the west and in Tikrit, in the north, the hometown of former dictator Saddam Hussein. The victims buried in mass graves include tribal, Iraqi soldiers, women and members of the Yazidi minority, the most persecuted by jihadists.

Not only in Iraq but also in Syria, there are traces of mass graves in areas controlled by the IS.

"I condemn in the strongest possible terms the continued killings, kidnapping, rape and torture of Iraqis by ISIL (IS), which may constitute crimes against humanity, war crimes and even genocide". And despite the "substantial" military progress on the ground in Iraq [and Syria], Daesh still remains "formidable and determined enemy that constantly adjusts its tactics and attack patterns". He said the group would not be defeated by military means alone, and called for action to address "the root causes of violent extremism".

From the humanitarian point of view, the crisis triggered by the rise of IS in Iraq [and in neighboring Syria] remains "one of the worst in the world", with over 10 million people - more than a third of the population - in need of international aid. However, only a quarter of the 861 million dollars needed to respond to the emergency has been allocated to date and the amount is insufficient.

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