BEIRUT, Lebanon — Two hundred corpses, including those of people believed to have been executed by the Islamic State group, were found near the Syrian city of Raqqa, a local official and a war monitor said Wednesday.
The mass grave contained the bodies of five middle-aged men in orange jumpsuits of the kind typically worn by IS hostages, Yasser al-Khamees and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“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 and the Observatory said.
“Their skulls were severely fractured and displayed signs of stoning,” the local official added.
The digger said his team first discovered the mass grave early last month on the southern edges of Raqqa, IS’s former 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 IS.
IS took full control of the city of Raqqa in early 2014 and made it the de facto Syrian capital of its infamous self-styled cross-border “caliphate.”
US-backed forces ousted IS from the devastated city in October 2017, leaving the Raqqa Civil Council (RCC) to run it.
The RCC has been retrieving bodies from the rubble across Raqqa, left in ruins by the months-long assault to oust IS.
In February, an exhumation team uncovered a mass grave holding an estimated 3,500 people in Raqqa’s Al-Fukheikha agricultural suburb — the largest to date.
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.
The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.
We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.
Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.