Over the past four years since ISIS' rise and fall, the group committed countless and unspeakable crimes against people in areas once under its control in Iraq.
Over the last few days, Iraqis have been celebrating one-year anniversary of the defeat of ISIS and the complete liberation of Iraq. Upon the announcement of victory against the terror group, the entire country was swept with jubilation, and more importantly, pride.
In 2014, when the militant group began to emerge and topple city after city in northern and western Iraq, the Iraqi military was in disarray, chaos had overcome the country and the state looked powerless to stop the seemingly impending doom of an ISIS advance on Baghdad. Three years later, the country united and the Iraqi military regained its credibility and fought back to reclaim every bit of territory lost to the group.
However, as Iraqis celebrate this occasion, hundreds of thousands of people are still living with the effects of ISIS rule in northern and western Iraq. Execution, imprisonment and torture were common under the group’s brutal rule in Anbar, Nineveh and Salahuddin. Upon seizing territory, the group would gleefully terrorise residents and wipe out any sign of defiance in order to strike fear in the hearts of Iraqis and prevent any kind of uprising.
Minorities were among the badly affected communities by ISIS’ rule. Christian and Yazidi communities in Nineveh were devastated by the group. Places of worship were demolished and thousands were slaughtered in some of the worst atrocities to befall these ancient communities in recent history.
According to the Directorate of Yazidi Affairs, 43 mass graves have been found in Sinjar and its surrounding areas and sub-districts. The United Nations labelled ISIS brutality against the Yazidi community a “genocidal campaign”. The Directorate puts the number of killed following ISIS’ arrival into the city in 2014 at 9,000 people, although, some activists say that many more were killed by the group over the last four years.
Furthermore, 6800 people were abducted for sexual slavery or to be used as combatants, while more than 3,000 Yazidi women and girls with about 1,500 children were captured to be sold in slave markets across then ISIS-held territory.