Mass Grave Reveals ISIS' Slaughter of Women, Children in Ramadi

Displaced Sunni people, who fled the violence in the city of Ramadi, arrive at the outskirts of Baghdad, May 19, 2015. Iraqi security forces on Tuesday deployed tanks and artillery around Ramadi to confront Islamic State fighters who have captured the city in a major defeat for the Baghdad government and its Western backers. | (Photo: Reuters/Stringer)

A mass grave containing 40 bodies, including women and children, has been discovered in the Iraqi city of Ramadi, which was recently liberated from the control of the Islamic State terror group.

CBS News reported Tuesday that Iraqi video footage shows local security forces and a forensics team at the scene, wearing masks and digging with shovels. Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Saad Maan confirmed, explaining that the mass grave contains the bodies of civilians and police.

A joint United Nations report from earlier in January said that as many as 18,800 people have been killed since 2014 in the ongoing Iraq war, while 3,500 women and children are being kept as IS sex slaves.

"The violence suffered by civilians in Iraq remains staggering. The so-called 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' continues to commit systematic and widespread violence and abuses of international human rights law and humanitarian law. These acts may, in some instances, amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and possibly genocide," the report stated.

IS has captured several major Iraqi cities, and has been involved in prolonged battles over others. Ramadi, which lies west of Baghdad, was recently retaken by Iraqi forces, but the full extent of the war crimes that have been inflicted upon people continues to be documented.

There have been several mass graves uncovered across Iraq and Syria over the past couple of years. Satellite images released in July, for instance, showed the blood-soaked ground where over 1,700 Iraqi soldiers were massacred in Tikrit in June 2014.

Iraqi health officials have described their horror at the atrocities they have found in cities liberated from IS, such as Tikrit.

"It was a heartbreaking scene. We couldn't prevent ourselves from breaking down in tears. What savage barbarian could kill 1,700 persons in cold blood?" Khalid al-Atbi, an Iraqi health official, asked in April.

In December, the U.N. said that at least 16 mass graves were uncovered in the Iraqi town of Sinjar, which was liberated in November.

Beside mass graves, IS is also infamous for its beheading videos and severe persecution of minorities, particularly Christians and Yazidis, capturing and killing thousands of people from such communities in the past couple of years.

The U.N. report, compiled by the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that IS' victims include "those perceived to be opposed to ISIL's ideology and rule; persons affiliated with the government, such as former Iraqi security forces, police officers, former public officials and electoral workers; professionals, such as doctors and lawyers; journalists; and tribal and religious leaders."

The report also accused IS of establishing self-appointed courts that have ordered the murder of countless people, and have imposed punishments such as stonings and amputations.

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