A mass grave of over 400 so-called Islamic State victims has been discovered in the disputed Iraqi province of Kirkuk, according to authorities.
The disturbing burial sites were found on Saturday at a military base, formerly used by US troops until 2011, around two miles north of Hawija in northern Iraq.
Kirkuk governor, Rakan Saed, said jihadists had turned the area ‘into an execution ground’ after seizing the territory in 2014.Getty
As reported by the Daily Mail, Saed said:
We are standing here, where… at least 400 civilians were dragged, some in their red jumpsuits, and brutally executed by ISIS.
People who’d witnessed the executions led authorities to the graves, Colonel Murtada Abbas of the 60th Brigade in the Iraqi military said.
Governor Rakan Saed has asked the Iraqi government and the Commission of Human Rights to work in identifying the victims.
ISIS has lost a large amount of territory in recent months, forced out of Hawija by Iraqi and Kurdish forces in October, after three weeks of fighting.
Hundreds of Islamic State fighters and their families surrendered in what was the last major unified operation between Iraqi and Kurdish forces.
After the clash with Islamic State, the two allies clashed over the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and other disputed territories, revealing a long-standing tension between the two in absence of a common enemy.
Government troops have unveiled dozens of mass graves containing hundreds of victim’s bodies executed under the jihadists’ rule of the area.
‘Thanks to witness accounts from local residents’ given to authorities the mass graves were discovered, said General Mortada al-Luwaibi.
In a disturbing image of the jihadi regime, Saad Abbas, a local farmer, told AFP:
[ISIS fighters could be seen] driving around in cars with their prisoners. They would shoot them and then throw them to the ground or burn their bodies.
Last Sunday, a twin suicide attack killed at least six people in Kirkuk, according to authorities.
An official, who spoke only under anonymity, explained the attackers struck near a former police station used by Sarya al-Salam, a Shiite paramilitary group.
The official said the two explosions, fifteen minutes apart, injured twelve people as well as taking six lives – the first attacker blew up a car rigged with explosives, followed by the second which used an explosive belt.
The Shiite force, led by powerful cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, formerly known as the Mahdi Army, is part of the Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary alliance, which has battled Islamic State and Kurdish forces.
Kurdish media have since accused Hashed alliance of carrying out acts of retribution against Kurdish civilians.