IRAQ – The pro-government paramilitary troops have run into a mass grave, likely to be for Islamic State members in al-Fatha region, north of Salahuddin province, Iraqi News reports.
In a statement, Wanas al-Jabbara, commander of the 88th brigade of al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces) said “during wide-scale operations by out troops, a mass grave containing several victims was found in al-Fatha region.”
The bodies, according to Jabbara, “maintained some of its features due to the low temperatures. Beards and heavy hair of the victims can be distinguished. It seems that most of them are Iraqi nationals.”
“Fatha region has been uninhabited since August 2014,” he said, adding that weapons and explosive belts were found along with bodies. “Apparently, they were killed during liberation offensives in Hawija.”
Adnan al-Tamimi, head of Maqdadiah council, told Alsumaria News that a security force found a mass grave near al-Zur Basin (10 miles to the north of Maqdadiah).
He revealed that only the remains of five people have been found so far, adding that they were transferred to medical examiners to identify them, Iraqi News reports.
Diyala’s borders with neighboring Salahuddin had served as a hotspot for Islamic State militant activity, and launching point for attacks against civilians and security troops.over the past years.
As Iraqi troops recaptured areas held by Islamic State militants since 2014, they have regularly run into mass graves of civilians and security agents executed by militants over accusations of fleeing the group’s havens or collaborating with security forces.
Iraq’s war against the Islamic State displaced millions of civilians both inside and outside the country, and left thousands dead.
ISIS has become notorious for its brutality, including mass killings, abductions and beheadings, prompting the U.S. to lead an international coalition to destroy it.
The Iraqi capital has seen almost daily bombings and armed attacks against security members, paramilitary troops and civilians since the Iraqi government launched a wide-scale campaign to retake Islamic State-occupied areas in 2016.
Iraq declared victory over Islamic State last December, ending a three-year war to bring down the group’s self-styled “caliphate” declared from Nineveh’s Mosul in 2014. Security continues to comb recaptured areas for remnant cells as a number of attacks against civilians and security grew fears of their resurgence.