Hundreds of bodies found in mass graves

Posted at 12:23 PM, Nov 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-17 12:23:25-05

IRBIL, Iraq — Iraqi security forces have discovered two mass graves near the city of Mosul containing around 250 bodies, police said Thursday.

The graves were found near the town of Hammam al-Alil and were created by ISIS militants, Iraqi Federal Police Commander Brig. Gen. Faris Radhi Abbas told CNN.

Their discovery follows the uncovering of 100 decapitated bodies in another mass grave near the same town on November 7.

Hammam al-Alil is on the Tigris River around 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of Mosul. It was liberated by Iraqi Federal Police about 10 days ago.

Iraqi forces entered Mosul on November 3 in an operation to free the city from more than two years of ISIS rule.

One of the mass graves mentioned on Thursday was discovered inside a well.

“We believe the well contains more than 200 bodies. ISIS used this mass grave to kill and dump people over the past two years,” Abbas told CNN.

“ISIS terrorists have also planted bombs around this mass grave to prevent family members from recovering the bodies of their loved ones,” Abbas said, adding that security forces were still working to defuse bombs around the site.

Abdulrahamn al Wagga from the Nineveh Provincial Council told CNN that the authority had heard reports of the mass grave in a well over the past two years.

“Some of the victims were thrown alive by ISIS into this well and some others were left there to die from their injuries,” al Wagga said.

Abbas said the second mass grave was discovered near Hammam al-Alil and contained about 45 bodies.

Thursday marked one month since the offensive to retake Mosul was launched by an Iraqi-led coalition involving around 100,000 people.

Iraqi forces have faced fierce clashes with ISIS militants in Mosul, as well as improvised explosive devices, booby traps and snipers.

Late Wednesday, Iraqi paramilitary forces said they had recaptured a strategic airbase outside the northern city of Tal Afar.

After Baghdad, Mosul is Iraq’s second-most-populous city, with 1.2 million residents. Aid agencies have warned that the push to liberate the city could trigger a new refugee crisis.