Crawling the rats… Daesh’s underground tunnels unearthed in Iraq

Published November 27th, 2015 - 06:00 GMT

A secret network of tunnels built by ISIS [Daesh] has been discovered under an Iraqi town.

Around 40 underground routes were found in Sinjar, complete with sleeping quarters, electricity, sandbags, American-made bomb making tools, medicine and copies of the Koran.

The tunnels were uncovered by Kurdish forces who liberated the town in north-west Iraq this month, after more than a year of Islamic State rule.

Shamo Eado, a Sinjar commander from the Iraqi Kurdish fighters known as Peshmerga, said: 'We found between 30 and 40 tunnels inside Sinjar. It was like a network inside the city.

'Daesh dug these trenches in order to hide from air strikes and have free movement underground as well as to store weapons and explosives. This was their military arsenal.'

Two tunnels run for several hundred metres, each starting and ending from houses, through holes knocked in walls or floors.

The houses are derelict buildings now after more than a year of fighting for the town.

The tunnels are narrow and just tall enough for an adult to stand in. One section resembled a bunker, with dusty copies of the Quran, blankets and pillows.

In another section of the tunnel, the footage shows stocks of ammunition, including American-made cartridges and bomb-making tools.

ISIS have been digging tunnels for protection and movement throughout the territory it controls in Iraq and Syria.

The work started well before the US-led coalition began airstrikes against the terror group last year.

'This has been part of Isis' strategy from the very beginning,' said Lina Khatib, a senior research associate at the Arab Reform initiative, a Paris-based think-tank. 'Isis has been well prepared for this kind of intervention.'

Islamic State took control of Sinjar in August 2014, killing and capturing thousands of the town's mostly Yazidi residents.

Yazidis, a religious minority in Iraq with roots that date back to ancient Mesopotamia, are considered provocative to Islam by ISIS.

ISIS still have hundreds of Yazidi women in captivity, with those who have escaped saying that the terror group force them to convert to Islam and marry militants.

After pushing ISIS out of Sinjar, Peshmerga officials and local residents uncovered two mass graves in the area.

One, not far from the town's centre, is estimated to hold 78 elderly women's bodies.

The second grave, uncovered about nine miles west of Sinjar, contained between 50 and 60 bodies of men, women and children.

Mr Eado said that as Kurdish forces clear Sinjar of explosives, he expects to find more tunnels and evidence of atrocities.

'It's just a matter of time,' he added.

By Anthony Jospeh

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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