New mass graves created by the Islamic State have been discovered in an area of Iraq recently seized from the terror organization.
Iraqi official Rakan Saed, who serves as governor of Kirkuk, said Sunday that the new mass graves were found near an airbase at Hawija, a town ISIS lost control of in early October, The Associated Press reports.
A combination of Iraqi government forces and Iranian-backed militias known as Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) beat ISIS back from Hawija, which is the most important agricultural area of Iraq.
According to a local shepherd, ISIS would bring its prisoners to the site and either shoot them immediately, or douse them in oil and set them on fire. Iraqi troops who examined the area found torn clothes and human bones scattered around. Some of the clothes were civilian, but others were orange jumpsuits, which ISIS used for prisoners explicitly sentenced to death. This particular grave may hold as many as 400 bodies.
As ISIS loses the territory it seized after the group’s ascendance in 2014, authorities are continuing to discover mass graves. In 2016, The Associated Press compiled a list of 72 mass grave sites. While the total number of bodies in the graves is unknown, the known figures range from 5,200 to more than 15,000. At the time the list was compiled, many of the mass grave sites were located in areas far too dangerous to closely examine.
But now as ISIS wanes, these mass graves will come under far more scrutiny.
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