Iraqi forensic teams in the newly recaptured city of Tikrit have started exhuming bodies from mass graves believed to contain some of the hundreds of soldiers killed by Islamic State militants last year, a government spokesman said Tuesday.
Kamil Amin from Iraq’s Human Rights Ministry said the work started on Monday on eight locations inside Tikrit’s complex of presidential palaces, where much of the killing is believed to have taken place.
Islamic State militants overran Saddam Hussein’s hometown last June, capturing around 1,700 soldiers as they were trying to flee Camp Speicher, an air base previously used by U.S. troops on the outskirt of Tikrit. The fall of Tikrit was part of the Islamic State onslaught that stunned Iraqi security forces and the military, which melted away as the militants advanced.
Later, the Islamic State group posted graphic images online that appeared to show its gunmen massacring scores of the soldiers after loading the captives onto flatbed trucks and then forcing them to lay face-down in a shallow ditch, their arms tied behind their backs.