Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism – For journalist Amer Matar, a decade-long search for his younger brother has defined him and changed the course of his life, now dedicated to researching and documenting crimes committed by the Islamic State group in Syria.
Three years after its territorial defeat, thousands are still missing and accountability for their captors remains elusive. Families of the missing feel abandoned by a world that has largely moved on, while they struggle alone to uncover the fate of their loved ones.
“These violations may constitute crimes against humanity, war crimes, and even genocide in some cases,” the Washington-based Syria Justice and Accountability Center said in a report published Thursday. “These families have the right to know the truth about the fate of their loved ones.”
The rights group says that between 2013 and 2017, when IS ruled much of northern and eastern Syria, the militant group detained thousands who remain missing and whose families continue to live in a state of grief and uncertainty.
In its report titled “Unearthing Hope: The Search for the Missing Victims of ISIS,” SJAC said that approximately 6,000 bodies have been exhumed from dozens of mass graves dug by IS in northeast Syria, and retrieved from buildings destroyed by airstrikes of the U.S.-led coalition during the military campaign that eventually brought down IS.
This may amount to approximately half of the total number of missing people in the northeast, according to the group, although estimates of the missing vary.