Revealing story of a mass grave in Mosul
Three men set up a fence and a ribbon of yellow and black crime scene tape around a site south of Iraq’s Mosul, marking a mass grave of jihadists’ victims. It is one of dozens of such sites discovered in areas around Iraq that have been recaptured from the Islamic State group, whose rule has been defined by extreme brutality. Now investigators face the enormous task of piecing together details of what happened to IS’s many victims, and determining who they were.
“It really is a crime scene,” Fawaz Abdulabbas, deputy head of the International Committee on Missing Persons in Iraq, said of the site near Hamam al-Alil discovered after Iraqi forces recaptured the town last month. “Between 80 and 100 bodies are here, including those of women and children,” Abdulabbas said.
Among the bodies may be that of Imed Dhaer, a policeman who was kidnapped by IS, leaving 10 children without their father and two wives without their husband, his brother Fuad said. When Iraqi forces launched an offensive in mid-October to recapture Mosul, the last IS-held city in the country, the jihadists “came to search for all members of the security forces”, including 33-year-old Imed, his brother said. The IS militants “were locals; they knew the houses and professions of all those they took”, Fuad said.
Three days of executions
Since then, he has had no news of his brother, but residents of Hamam Al-Alil said they heard shooting at the grave site, a former Iraqi firing range near the town. “For three days, from 7:00 to 11:00 pm, they executed” the people they had seized and then “dumped the bodies before partially covering them with dirt mixed with garbage” in what they termed “burials of dishonor”, said Dargham Kamil, an official from the Martyrs’ Foundation. The organization, which is under the authority of the Iraqi premier’s office, has been working for over a month to trace how the killings unfolded, and has already collected many accounts from local residents. Fuad can imagine what happened and now wants only one thing: to see the body of his brother, to know for sure. “Only that can soothe our hearts,” Fuad said.— AFP
MOSUL: This file photo taken on November 7, 2016 shows members of the Iraqi forces checking a body they pulled from a mass grave they discovered in the Hamam Al-Alil area after they recaptured the area from Islamic State (IS) group jihadists during the ongoing operation to retake Mosul, the last IS-held Iraqi city. — AFP