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Raqqa civil authorities uncover new mass grave of ISIS victims

Two hundred corpses, including those of people believed to have been executed by Islamic State, were found near the Syrian city of Raqqa, a local official said.

The mass grave contained the bodies of five men in orange jumpsuits of the kind typically worn by ISIS hostages, said Yasser al-Khamees, the head of Raqqa’s Civil Defense team.

“They were shackled and shot in the head,” said Khamees, who heads a team of first responders.

They were believed to have been killed more than two years ago, he said, adding that his team was not immediately able to identify them.

The grave also included the bodies of three women who were believed to have been stoned to death, Khamees said.

“Their skulls were severely fractured and displayed signs of stoning,” he added.

The digger said his team first discovered the mass grave early last month on the southern edges of Raqqa, ISIS’s former de-facto Syria capital.

As many as 800 people could be buried there in total, he said.

Its discovery could help identify even more of the several thousand people whose fates remain unknown, including foreigners imprisoned by ISIS.

ISIS took full control of the city of Raqqa in early 2014 and made it the de facto Syrian capital of its infamous cross-border “caliphate.”

U.S.-backed forces ousted ISIS from the devastated city in October 2017, leaving the Raqqa Civil Council to run it.

The RCC has been retrieving bodies from the rubble across Raqa, left in ruins by the months-long assault to oust ISIS.

In February, the civil defense service uncovered a mass grave holding an estimated 3,500 people in the Fukheikha suburb of Raqqa.

Several other mass graves have already been identified around the city, including one in the neighborhood known as “Panorama,” from which more than 900 bodies were exhumed.

Prior to the al-Fukheikha grave, the Raqqa division had exhumed more than 3,800 bodies, most believed to be victims of ISIS, since it began work in January 2018.

Raqqa security deteriorates as US drawdown threatens northern Syria stability

With reporting from AFP

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