Two mass graves uncovered near the former terrorist stronghold of Raqqa became the final resting place for dozens of Syrians executed by ISIS. The effort to recover their remains is underway, with at least 115 bodies found so far.
After the liberation of the former capital of the self-styled Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS, ISIL) terrorist caliphate, two mass graves were discovered by returning civilians who then alerted the Syrian military of the gruesome find, Syria’s state SANA agency reported citing a field commander.
The Syrian army moved to verify the reports and confirmed the horrific claim. Corpses of dozens of soldiers and civilians were piled up under the sand. A civil defense team have been digging out the improvised graves to recover the remains.
So far, some 115 bodies have been exhumed from the mass graves located 25km south of the town of Al-Wawi. The remains were transported to Aleppo’s military hospital for identification and other legal procedures. Some of the people slain by IS militants have already been identified, the commander said.
It was not immediately clear where and when the militants and civilians were slaughtered, with SANA reporting they were killed by the jihadists after the terrorists had overrun the area.
Al-Masdar News reported, citing sources, that some of the slain Syrian troops were defending the Tabqa Airbase north of Raqqa which IS seized from government forces in August, 2014. The base was then retaken by the US-backed SDF in March this year.
It was reported in 2014, that over 50 Syrian army soldiers perished in the terrorist assault on the Syrian army's 17th Division north of Raqqa in July that year. The militants claimed they had executed dozens of Syrian troops and buried them in a mass graves. IS posted video and photo evidence of the massacre.Raqqa’s liberation from jihadists in October, spearheaded by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), came after months of intense clashes, artillery shelling and massive bombardment by the US-led coalition. The coalition victory came at high price, though, as 80 percent of the city was reduced to rubble with the majority of residential buildings sustaining irreparable damage. The Russian Defense Ministry even compared the destruction of Raqqa to the Allied bombing of Dresden, when the German city was almost levelled to the ground.
With the number of civilian deaths still unknown during the Raqqa campaign, some 270,000 people were forced to flee the city and its surroundings. The US-led coalition recently courted another controversy after it was revealed in a BBC report that it allowed hundreds of IS fighters to freely leave Raqqa in a secret deal struck between Kurdish forces and retreating militants.