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New mass grave unearthed in Iraq’s north from brutal IS rule

MOSUL, Iraq (AP) — A human skull, a pair of worn trousers and a shoe were among the remains unearthed from a mass grave discovered this week in northern Iraq, a remnant of the brutal rule of the Islamic State group, Iraqi officials said.

The new mass grave was discovered on Monday in the village of Humeydat near the Badoush area west of the city of Mosul, six years after the IS group — at the height of its power — declared a caliphate that stretched across eastern Syria and much of northern and western Iraq.

Dozens of bodies were found buried in a trench stretching hundreds of yards long. Forensics experts have carried out an initial investigation but the spread of the novel coronavirus has impeded excavations, medical officials in Mosul said.

While an investigation is needed to identify the bodies, many believe they were Shiite convicts taken from the local Badoush prison by IS and killed by the militants, shortly after they seized Mosul in June 2014.

Iraqi forces recaptured the prison in March 2017. IS allegedly killed up to 600 inmates in the prison, most of them Shiite detainees. According to an investigation by Human Rights Watch at the time, based on eyewitness accounts, at least 1,500 inmates were rounded up and transported to a stretch of desert. There, Sunni and Shiite inmates were separated and the latter killed.

Iraqi security forces with assistance from the U.S.-led coalition defeated IS and reclaimed northern Iraq in a 2016 military campaign. Though IS no longer holds territory in Iraq, remnants of the group are still active and routinely carry out attacks against Iraqi security forces.

But memories of the group’s brutal reign persist, years after the military campaign to root them out.

Hussein al-Nesr, a resident of the Badoush area, is sorrowful the newly found remains could not be given a proper burial.

“These are all filled with humans,” he said, pointing to the site where IS is believed to have committed the massacre.

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