Iraq announced over the weekend that it had excavated a mass grave containing the remains of more than 100 people killed by the Islamic State (IS) terrorists in a facility located in the northwest of Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul.
Officials believe the remains belong to Shiite prisoners executed by the group in 2014. The Sunni extremists massacred more than 600 people in that facility.
“This mass grave belongs to the residents of the Badush Prison,” said Ziya Karim, Director of Iraqi Government’s Martyrs Foundation. “They were killed by [IS] fighters after they controlled the prison. The first stage ended with excavating 123 corpses.”
In 2017, the Iraqi government announced that it had found and identified the remains of nearly 500 inmates from the prison. If identified, the latest discovery could put an end to the search for the facility’s missing.
“God willing, in the coming days, we will create a database to identify the victims through autopsy examinations,” said Hasan Wasiq, director of Mosul’s Autopsy Hospital.
Wasiq added that authorities will ask presumed family members of the victims to “get blood samples and find DNA matches to identify the victims we have found in the mass grave.”
Iraq says it has found at least 40 additional mass graves in the northern Nineveh province, calling on the international community to provide support to excavate them. The U.N. estimates up to 12,000 people could be buried in nearly 200 IS mass graves in Iraq.
“From this place, we call on the United Nations and other international organizations to help us dig up all the mass graves,” said Najim Jibouri, governor of Ninevah Province, where Mosul is located.
“There are hundreds, if not thousands, of families who have missing members,” he added. “They continue to be worried, and that is why we must promptly identify all the corpses in those mass graves.”