Kurdish forces said Sunday they uncovered two mass graves outside Sinjar, a northern Iraqi town near the Syrian border that was ruled by ISIS for more than a year before the extremists were driven out last week. The first grave uncovered was west of the town's center near the technical institute and contained 78 elderly women's bodies, the Sinjar director of intelligence, Qasim Samir, told the AP. The second grave was uncovered about 10 miles west of Sinjar and contained between 50 and 60 bodies of men, women, and children, he said. More precise information from the second grave is unavailable at the moment, Samir explained, because the surrounding area is thought to be rigged with homemade bombs. "These people (in the mass graves) were shot and buried during the (ISIS) invasion last year," Samir said.
ISIS captured Sinjar during its rampage across northern Iraq in the summer of 2014 and killed and captured thousands of members of the Yazidi religious minority, including women forced into sexual slavery. A security official with the Kurdish militia forces known as peshmerga also confirmed the discovery, saying, "This is not a surprise." In the nearby Snuny, Peshmerga uncovered seven mass graves after retaking the territory earlier this year. "Everyone who was missing a family member was hoping that they were still out there, that they are still alive and maybe they'll come back," says a former Sinjar resident. Human rights groups estimate thousands of Yezidi women and girls still remain in ISIS custody. "But now with the news of each grave found, we know not all of them will come back," the resident continues. "Some of them are never coming back." (Read more Mount Sinjar stories.)