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Dozens of Bodies Reported Found in Raqqa Mass Grave

FILE - In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian security forces remove human remains at the site of two mass graves believed to contain the bodies of civilians and troops killed by Islamic State militants, in the village of Wawi near the northern city of Raqqa, Syria, Dec. 30, 2017. Nearly 50 bodies have been found in another recently discovered grave in Raqqa, a local official said April 21, 2018.

Dozens of bodies, including those of jihadists and civilians, have been found in a mass grave in the former Islamic State group stronghold of Raqqa, Syria, a local official said Saturday.

The former de facto capital of the group in northern Syria, Raqqa saw the jihadists ousted by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in October 2017.

Nearly 50 bodies had already been recovered from the mass grave, which could contain up to 200 bodies, said Abdallah al-Eriane, a senior official with the Raqqa Civil Council now running the city.

The mass grave was located under a soccer pitch, close to a hospital where the jihadists had dug in before being chased out of the city.

"It was apparently the only place available for burials, which were done in haste. The jihadists were holed up in the hospital," the official said, adding that some bodies were marked with the nom de guerre of the jihadist while civilians just had first names.

In recent months, both Syria and Iraq have discovered mass graves in areas previously occupied by the jihadists.

Syrian troops uncovered a mass grave containing the remains of more than 30 people killed by IS in Raqqa province in February. That followed two other similar finds by the Syrian army.

The Islamic State group, which proclaimed a caliphate over swaths of Syria and Iraq in 2014, has now lost almost all the land it once controlled. It has been held responsible for multiple atrocities during its reign of terror, including mass executions and decapitations.