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Mass grave found in northern countryside of Aleppo

Members of the Syria Civil Defense found a mass grave in the town of Turkman Bareh in the northern countryside of Aleppo - 15 November 2019 (Syrian Civil Defense)

Members of the Syria Civil Defense found a mass grave in the town of Turkman Bareh in the northern countryside of Aleppo - 15 November 2019 (Syrian Civil Defense)

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Syrian civil defense teams found a mass grave in the northern countryside of Aleppo, three years after the opposition factions regained control of the area from the so-called Islamic State (ISIS).

Enab Baladi’s correspondent in rural Aleppo reported today, 16 November, that in the evening hours, a mass grave was discovered in a rocky cliff in the town of Turkman Bareh near Akhtarin in the northern countryside of Aleppo. The grave contained the bodies of six fighters who are believed to have been from the opposition factions.

Adnan Mohammed al-Omar, head of the civil defense team at the Akhtarin center, told Enab Baladi that the six bodies were no more than skeletal remains. The bodies have no physical characteristics that can help with determining their identities. Al-Omar believed that the six-bodies were buried three years ago during the battles against ISIS in the region.

Al-Omar added that local police recovered the six bodies in an attempt to identify them on the basis of their clothing. The residents of the area were able to identify one of the six bodies, alleging that the body belongs to the religious leader, Abu Abd al-Sami, of the Sham Falcons Brigades (SFB), an armed opposition faction.

Opposition factions regained control of Turkman Bareh town as part of Operation Euphrates Shield with Turkish support in October 2016 after extensive battles against ISIS. During these battles, ISIS killed and captured several fighters from opposition factions.

Several mass graves were uncovered in Syria, mostly in the eastern Euphrates region that was once controlled by ISIS. Graves were also uncovered in areas controlled by the Syrian regime including the provinces of Homs, Hama, Daraa and rural Aleppo.

In July 2017 Syrian civil defense also found a mass grave in the Akhtarin area in Aleppo countryside. Other mass grave sites were discovered in the villages of Asunbull and Jabal Aqeel in al-Bab area of Aleppo countryside. The areas witnessed several battles between various factions in the past years.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report released in July 2018 on “mass graves in former ISIS areas” that the activists working in uncovering mass graves need international support and technical assistance to preserve evidence of possible crimes and identify the remains.

HRW called for further efforts to shed light on the “indescribable” atrocities committed by ISIS and appealed to the international community to intervene and support local authorities.

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