Special to WorldTribune.com
Iraqi officials say government forces have discovered a mass grave containing the remains of around 400 people near Fallujah during their push to retake the city from the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL or IS) group.
Unidentified security sources were quoted by news agencies as saying on June 5 that Iraqi forces discovered the grave in the suburb of Saqlawiya northwest of Fallujah.
“Most of the remains belonged to military personnel who were detained and killed by [ISIL fighters],” one military official told dpa on condition of anonymity.
A police colonel in the Anbar Province, where Fallujah is located, was quoted by AFP as saying that the mass burial site was uncovered during a mine-clearing operation in the Shuhada neighborhood of Saqlawiya.
“The mass grave contains about 400 bodies of members of the military. There are also some civilians,” the police colonel told AFP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Rajeh Barakat, a member of the Anbar provincial council, confirmed the discovery to AFP.
“The mass grave also includes civilians executed by [IS militants] on various charges such as spying or breaking the organization’s rules,” Barakat told AFP.
Iraqi forces, with air support from the U.S.-led coalition and backing from Shi’ite militias, launched the offensive to retake Fallujah two weeks ago.
Iraqi officials said earlier on June 5 that that they had secured the the southern edge of the city.