Sgt. Maj. Raad Ahmed Ali of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces on Monday inspects an underground Islamic State bomb shelter, part of a network of tunnels built in the city of Sinjar, Iraq. (BEN KESLING/WSJ)
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QAMISHLI – Several secret tunnels carved by militants of the radical group of Islamic State (ISIS) have been found littered with drugs, copies of the Quran and U.S.-made ammunition in the recently liberated Yezidi region of Sinjar (Shingal) in northern Iraq, military sources reported.
Backed by the U.S.-led coalition’s air cover, the Kurdish Peshmerga forces were able to liberate the Yezidi areas after more than a year and a half from ISIS.
Following the expulsion of the terror group, dozens of secret tunnels dug by ISIS extremists have been found in Sinjar by the Kurdish fighters and local Yezidi combatants.
Speaking to ARA News in Shingal, Yezidi fighter Rizgar Yawir said: “We were surprised that the deserted ISIS tunnels were provided with electricity, beside a number of sleeping dens lined with sandbags for military purposes.
“Remnants of food and unwashed plates were also found there,” he added, pointing out “some drugs, mainly painkillers, were seen on the ground”.
“During our inspection we also found several copies of the Quran hung on the walls of the tunnels,” Yawir told ARA News, pointing out that some of the U.S.-made boxes of ammunition and bomb-making tools were placed in the corners.
“A network of nearly 40 tunnels have been found inside Shingal,” Yawir added.
“Daesh dug these tunnels in a bid to hide from the U.S.-led coalition’s airstrikes and the shells of the Kurdish and Yezidi forces,” he told ARA News, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.
“This would definitely have facilitated their movement during military operations,” he stressed. “It was a key depot of weapon.”
As Syrian Kurds were able to recapture the key town of al-Hawl in Hasakah province in northeastern Syria from ISIS, the Iraqi Kurdish fighters achieved parallel victory in Shingal (Sinjar). Thus, both sides were able to cut-off the vital supply routes from the ISIS de-facto capital in Syria’s Raqqa to the city of Mosul –ISIS major bastion in Iraq.
In the meantime, the Peshmerga forces have reportedly discovered two mass graves in Shingal after ISIS departure from the area.
One grave included dead bodies of 76 women and the second one had 60 bodies of men, women and children. The victims are believed to be Yezidi civilians executed recently by the radical group.
In June, the Syrian Kurdish forces of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) discovered several tunnels used by ISIS insurgents to move between the villages of Sere Kaniye in Hasakah province.
The terror group has been engaged in fighting against the Kurdish forces for months before the latter, backed by Arab and Christian groups, were able to regain control of several strategic towns and villages in the province.
“We found tunnels that have been used by the group to move between the villages of Sere Kaniye’s countryside in order to avoid our (YPG) fire and airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition,” YPG fighter Dafram Kortay told ARA News in an earlier interview.
The displaced Yezidi Kurds, who are currently based in refugee camps in Iraqi Kurdistan, are unable to return to their hometowns for fear of the land-mines planted by the ISIS terror group before its withdrawal from the Shingal region, Kurdish activists reported.
Reporting by: Egid Ibrahim
Source: ARA News