UNITAD identifies 344 Da’esh members responsible for atrocities in Iraq

UNITAD’s forensic experts exhuming a mass grave in Sinjar UNITAD’s forensic experts exhuming a mass grave in Sinjar AFP

15 June 2020

Almost two years after its arrival in Iraq, the Special UN Investigative Team probing Daesh atrocities in Iraq shows promising results

The head of the Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh (UNITAD), Mr. Karim Khan, has briefed the UN Security Council on the progress made during the last six months. Among the main outcomes, 344 persons  allegedly involved in the massacre of Yazidis in the Sinjar district of northern Iraq were identified. In regard  to the mass killings of unarmed cadets and military personnel at the Tikrit Air Academy in 2014, the team also identified at least seven categories of crimes allegedly attributed to Da’esh members . Mr. Kahn stated further  that in March two mass grave were found in Mosul owed to a close cooperation with the Iraqi and Kurdish Regional Governments authorities.

UNITAD was established through Resolution 2379 of 21 September 2017 for an initial period of two years “to support Iraq in its domestic efforts to held Da’esh accountable for atrocities committed in Iraq and the Levant”. In 2019 its mandate was renewed for an additional year through Resolution 2490. Under the leadership of Mr Khan since his appointment in Main 2018, the investigative team’s investigations focus on three main areas: the June2014 mass killings of unarmed Iraqi air force cadets from the Tikrit Air Academy, the attacks against the Yazidi community in the Sinjar district in August of the same year, and crimes committed in Mosul between 2014 and 2016.

Mr Khan highlighted that the continuous cooperation and support of the Iraqi judiciary, in particular the national commission to investigate those crimes - were  key to the latest progress made. The close and fruitful cooperation permitted investigators to extract and analyse a considerable amount of data from cell phones, SIM cards and mass storage devices used by Da’esh members to store  documents, videos and images. This has the potential to constitute a paradigm shift regarding the investigations. Mr. Khan stresses the team’s continued engagement for  the next six months as “Our commitment to the communities of Iraq will only be satisfied when justice is delivered in court, when the survivors of Da’esh atrocities are able to see their abusers held accountable in accordance with the rule of law”.


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Author: Michele Pitta

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