Two mass graves filled with “dozens of bodies” have been discovered in Syria’s Raqqa province, state media has said.
The SANA news agency reported the bodies of civilians and troops killed by the Islamic State (IS) group were discovered in two mass graves in the village of Wawi, near the northern city of Raqqa, once the de facto capital of IS.
IS carried out public killings in its once self-declared caliphate, beheading, shooting and stoning perceived offenders to death, as well as drowning them in large pools while locked in metal cages.
Raqqa was liberated from the clutches of the terror group in October, and an estimated 30,000 people have returned to live in the ruins of the once-thriving city.
SANA said after residents returned to their village some of them received information about mass graves near the village and once a search began the two graves were discovered.
The agency quoted a local official as saying work was ongoing to remove more bodies, adding they were trying to identify the dead in order to hand their remains over to their families.
An estimated 1,800 civilians were killed in Raqqa during the three years of IS occupation, although that number is disputed.
Dozens of militants evacuated in southern Syria
Dozens of Syrian militants and their families have departed aboard buses from an area besieged by government forces near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, as part of a deal to clear yet another district of insurgents.
The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media said 153 people, including 106 fighters, left the village of Beit Jin toward the southern province of Daraa.
The Ibaa news agency of the Al Qaeda-linked Levant Liberation Committee said six buses carrying fighters and their families arrived in rebel-held parts of Daraa province.
On Friday, Syria’s state news agency SANA said some 300 Al Qaeda-linked militants and their families would be sent to Daraa and the north-western province of Idlib.
The evacuation allows the Government to reassert control over Beit Jin, near the Golan Heights that were captured by Israel from Syria during the 1967 Mideast war.
Israel has publicly warned against the accumulation of Iranian and Iranian-backed forces at its border.
Iran has arranged for thousands of militiamen from across the region to fight on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s Government and has sent top commanders to direct its own Revolutionary Guards in the country as well.