BAGHDAD – Iraqi security forces said on Tuesday in Baghdad that they have found 14 mass graves since recapturing the city of Tikrit last week.
The officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said the graves contained the bodies of the ‘worst massacre perpetrated by the Islamic State (IS) extremist group’.
They said the bodies included, soldiers captured by the militants after fleeing from a military base, during Islamic State’s lightning offensive in June 2014.
The officials said the victims had been thrown at random into the graves at former ruler Saddam Hussein’s palace complex on the banks of the Tigris River.
They recalled that the Sunni jihadist group claimed at the time to have executed 1,700 Shiite soldiers who had surrendered to it after fleeing nearby Camp Speicher.
The officials said various photographs published by the group showed large groups of young men being rounded up and driven in the backs of trucks to fields.
They said the men were later made to lie on the ground in rows as gunmen apparently opened fire on them.
They said a video later released showed other men being hustled to the riverside one by one, beaten, shot in the head and thrown in the water.
The officials said specialist teams have commenced removing the bodies from the graves.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch said that testimony from a survivour and satellite imagery confirmed the execution of 560 to 770 men, all apparently captured soldiers, at the palace complex.
The group said the killings were the worst of numerous atrocities during a rapid offensive that saw the group seize much of Sunni Arab northern and western Iraq as security forces collapsed. (dpa/NAN)
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