Dozens of bodies found in mass graves in Syria

Kurdish-linked authorities said on Thursday they found the remains of nearly 30 bodies in a mass grave in northern Syria, with a military observer saying they were likely killed by jihadists.

“At least 29 bodies, including those of a woman and two children, were found in a mass grave near a hotel in Manbij,” said a spokesman for Manbij’s Kurdish civil council, who requested anonymity.

The jihadist group Islamic State turned the hotel into a prison when it ruled the northern city between 2014 and 2016.

The mass grave was discovered on Wednesday by municipal workers who were repairing the sewer system, the Manbij military council said.

Some of the decomposed remains were found handcuffed and blindfolded.

The military council said it was unclear when they were killed, but it was during IS rule in Manbij.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the remains are believed to be those of people abducted by ISIS.

US-backed Kurdish forces took control of Manbij in 2016 after jihadists were driven out of the city.

Dozens of mass graves have been discovered in Iraq and Syria, but the process of identification is slow, costly and difficult.

ISIS took over large swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” and killing thousands before they were apprehended.

One of the largest alleged ISIS mass graves contained 200 bodies and was discovered in 2019 near Raqqa, the group’s former de facto capital in Syria.

Human rights organizations have repeatedly called on the Kurdish authorities and the Syrian government to investigate the fate of the thousands who went missing during IS rule.

British reporter John Cantley and Italian Jesuit priest Paolo Dall’Oglio are among the missing.

The war in Syria, which erupted in 2011 after a violent crackdown on anti-government protests, has claimed the lives of nearly half a million people and forced about half of the country’s pre-war population to flee their homes.