Signs of massacre haunt Tikrit after Islamic State militants retreat

Shia militiamen pray and light candles for victims of the Speicher massacre at a mass gravesite in Tikrit. Source: AFP

As the last shots were exchanged to retake Saddam Hussein’s home town of Tikrit from Islamic State last week, evidence was ­emerging of one of the worst ­massacres of the jihadists’ bloody occupation.

Scattered personal belongings, a bundle of clothes buried in a hole, abandoned slippers and the wallet of a dead man were found strewn in shallow holes near a site identified as a mass grave of Shia Iraqis shot in cold blood by Islamic State when it took the town last summer.

The place was identified by an Islamic State prisoner captured as Iraqi government troops, Shia ­militiamen, Iranian advisers and a few Sunni tribesmen, aided by US airstrikes, fought towards the ­former presidential palace.

The prisoner said he had helped dig the grave that ­contained about 300 victims of the Speicher massacre, named after the nearby military base where Islamic State fighters ­abducted an estimated 1500 Shia recruits to the Iraqi army before videoing their executions on the city’s waterfront. Dozens of ID cards were found in a pile of waste nearby…