ERBIL, Iraq – As the United States and other countries ramp up efforts to battle Sunni militants in Syria and Iraq, international experts warn that gruesome finds could lie behind enemy lines. “When ISIS is pushed, if they are pushed back, we’re going to be dealing with mass graves for a long time and suffering of a community on a monumental scale,” Fred Abrahams, a special adviser to Human Rights Watch, told NBC News.
Abrahams also warned that the Yazidi community – which has been targeted by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham – has been devastated by the conflict, with a least a thousand women and children held captive and in danger. There are credible reports of extreme sexual violence and the sale of young girls, he added, saying “the community is in a desperate condition,” he said. ISIS has demanded that religious minorities – including Yazidis and Christians – convert to Islam or be killed, driving thousands to flee persecution. International relief organizations estimate that about 800,000 people have fled ISIS and sought shelter in Iraq’s Kurdistan region alone.