Iraq says 40 bodies found in mass grave in Ramadi

Mass Grave Found in Ramadi, Iraq


BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi forces have found more than 40 bodies, including those of women and children, in a mass grave in the city of Ramadi west of Baghdad, which they recently retook from Islamic State militants, officials said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Saad Maan said the grave in central Ramadi contained the bodies of civilians as well as police. Video footage from the site shows local security forces and a small forensics team wearing face masks and digging with shovels.

Ramadi, the provincial capital of the sprawling Anbar province, fell to IS in May, marking a major setback for U.S.-allied Iraqi forces. Iraqi troops retook the city center last month with heavy coalition air support.

See photos of the mass grave:

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Mass grave found in Ramadi
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Iraq says 40 bodies found in mass grave in Ramadi
A member of Iraqi security forces put in a plastic bags the remains of people killed by the Islamic State group that were found in a mass grave on January 26, 2016, a day after it was discovered in the Al-Jamiya area of central Ramadi. Security forces have already removed 18 bodies, including five members of the police, and the mass grave is expected to contain the bodies of 40 victims. A police major said that the victims were from Ramadi and were executed by IS in May 2015, when the jihadists succeeded in overrunning the city. / AFP / MOADH AL-DULAIMI (Photo credit should read MOADH AL-DULAIMI/AFP/Getty Images)
Iraqi security forces and medical staff collect the remains of people killed by the Islamic State group from a mass grave on January 26, 2016, a day after it was found in the Al-Jamiya area of central Ramadi. Security forces have already removed 18 bodies, including five members of the police, and the mass grave is expected to contain the bodies of 40 victims. A police major said that the victims were from Ramadi and were executed by IS in May 2015, when the jihadists succeeded in overrunning the city. / AFP / MOADH AL-DULAIMI (Photo credit should read MOADH AL-DULAIMI/AFP/Getty Images)
Iraqi security forces and medical staff collect the remains of people killed by the Islamic State group from a mass grave on January 26, 2016, a day after it was found in the Al-Jamiya area of central Ramadi. Security forces have already removed 18 bodies, including five members of the police, and the mass grave is expected to contain the bodies of 40 victims. A police major said that the victims were from Ramadi and were executed by IS in May 2015, when the jihadists succeeded in overrunning the city. / AFP / MOADH AL-DULAIMI (Photo credit should read MOADH AL-DULAIMI/AFP/Getty Images)
Iraqi security forces collect the remains of people killed by the Islamic State group from a mass grave on January 26, 2016, a day after it was found in the Al-Jamiya area of central Ramadi. Security forces have already removed 18 bodies, including five members of the police, and the mass grave is expected to contain the bodies of 40 victims. A police major said that the victims were from Ramadi and were executed by IS in May 2015, when the jihadists succeeded in overrunning the city. / AFP / MOADH AL-DULAIMI (Photo credit should read MOADH AL-DULAIMI/AFP/Getty Images)
Iraqi medical staff collect the remains of people killed by the Islamic State group from a mass grave on January 26, 2016, a day after it was found in the Al-Jamiya area of central Ramadi. Security forces have already removed 18 bodies, including five members of the police, and the mass grave is expected to contain the bodies of 40 victims. A police major said that the victims were from Ramadi and were executed by IS in May 2015, when the jihadists succeeded in overrunning the city. / AFP / MOADH AL-DULAIMI (Photo credit should read MOADH AL-DULAIMI/AFP/Getty Images)
Iraqi security forces and medical staff collect the remains of people killed by the Islamic State group from a mass grave on January 26, 2016, a day after it was found in the Al-Jamiya area of central Ramadi. Security forces have already removed 18 bodies, including five members of the police, and the mass grave is expected to contain the bodies of 40 victims. A police major said that the victims were from Ramadi and were executed by IS in May 2015, when the jihadists succeeded in overrunning the city. / AFP / MOADH AL-DULAIMI (Photo credit should read MOADH AL-DULAIMI/AFP/Getty Images)
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Similar mass graves have been found in other areas liberated from the IS group in Syria and Iraq. The extremist group has boasted of massacring Shiites and other opponents, often releasing gruesome videos and pictures of the killings.

Last month the U.N. said 16 mass graves had been found in the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, where Kurdish forces pushed out IS in November. The extremist group captured Sinjar during its rampage across northern and western Iraq in the summer of 2014 and killed and captured thousands of members of the Yazidi religious minority, including women who were forced into sexual slavery.

In June 2014, IS captured and killed some 1,700 Iraqi soldiers when it overran Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit. The soldiers were trying to flee from Camp Speicher, a nearby army base. Mass graves with the bodies of hundreds of Iraqi soldiers were found after the city was liberated in April.

The excavation and identification of bodies found in mass graves can take several months, as many of the sites are near the front lines of the conflict.

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