Iraq opens mass grave to identify victims of Islamic State (IS) group

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The Iraqi authorities announced on Sunday that they had removed from a mass grave the remains of 123 victims of one of the worst massacres of the Islamic State (IS) group, as part of an identification work carried out with families.

This is one of the worst massacres committed by the Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq. The country’s authorities announced on Sunday June 13 that they had taken the remains of 123 victims out of a mass grave to compare them to samples taken from relatives of the missing.

For weeks, in Baghdad and elsewhere, dozens of families have donated blood in an attempt to identify the 583 bodies found in this huge mass grave near Badouch prison, not far from Mosul, in northern Iraq.

There, in 2014, jihadists took 583 detainees, mostly Shia Muslims, in trucks to a ravine before shooting them down, one of the worst crimes of the group accused of “genocide” by the UN which left more 200 mass graves in Iraq where up to 12,000 bodies are believed to be.

“Thousands of families are still waiting to know what happened to their loved one,” Najm al-Joubbouri, governor of the province of Nineveh, where Badouch is located, told AFP.

Earlier this week, AFP had met in Baghdad’s forensic medicine Abbas Mohammed, whose son Mohannad was arrested in 2005 by the Americans before landing in Badouch. “I need an answer which appeases me after 17 years passed without knowing if my son was alive or dead”, he had then explained.

Find traces of DNA

Iraq, which still brings to light mass graves of Saddam Hussein’s regime, has been working for years to identify the remains of various violent episodes in its history.

Each time, the DNA of the victims is taken from mass graves or natural cavities, before being compared to blood samples from survivors. Finding traces of DNA on remains exposed to rains, fires and other fighting for years is a feat, repeat forensic specialists.

On Sunday again, in Badouch, Saleh Ahmed, of the Martyrs Commission, explained to AFP that “working conditions are difficult”. In the midst of about thirty employees who were busy on the site, he said: “we are working in overwhelming heat” which is not conducive to the preservation of the remains. “There are tangled bodies and snakes and scorpions all over the place.”

With AFP

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