UNITAD Provides Specialist Technical Support for the Excavation of Mass Graves' Sites in Anbar

During widespread attacks in 2014, ISIL members seized control of Anbar, deliberately targeting Sunni tribes who refused to pledge allegiance, calling them “apostates deserving to be executed.”

There is evidence that several ISIL perpetrators allegedly committed various international crimes as the group controlled Anbar, killing thousands of Sunnis, including women and children.

As UNITAD’s investigations into these crimes continue, the Team’s Forensic Anthropology and Archeology Unit (FAAU) has been providing technical support to national authorities in the excavation of mass graves of ISIL victims in the area.

In January 2023, UNITAD provided specialist technical support for the excavation of 3 mass graves’ sites of ISIL victims in the District of Heet, Governorate of Anbar. This joint work, led by the Iraqi Mass Graves Directorate (MGD) and the Medico-Legal Directorate (MLD), is conducted in line with MGD’s national strategy for excavation of mass graves while promoting implementation of the National Law on the Protection of Mass Graves. The excavated remains were transferred to the laboratory of the MLD in Baghdad for identification.

UNITAD experts have also supported national authorities in advanced digital survey methodologies and the collection of forensic evidence from mass graves. These are critical components of the investigations seeking justice for victims of these crimes, advancing UNITAD’s core mandate of promoting accountability for ISIL’s international crimes. In addition, the excavation of mass graves is crucial for the victims’ families, who await to know the destiny of their loved ones, as the MLD works tirelessly to identify the remains of the victims.