Victims Of ISIS Massacre Being Exhumed From Mass Graves Near Tikrit

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Erica Wenig Contributor
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More than a thousand bodies of Iraqi soldiers massacred by the Islamic State last summer are now being exhumed from mass graves around the newly-liberated city of Tikrit.

The Iraqi government estimates 1,700 unarmed soldiers from Camp Speicher, a former U.S Army base near Tikrit, were literally lined up and killed by Islamic State militants in June of 2014. Forensic experts predict 500-600 bodies will be uncovered in the Tikrit area.

The soldiers are believed to have been slaughtered in the vicinity of city’s presidential palaces. Witness accounts vary, some claiming soldiers were divided between Sunni and Shiite sects. Islamic State militants tested captives by ordering them to pray, reports the Wall Street Journal. It enabled militants to determine hostages’ religious identities since each prays in a slightly different way.

According to CNN, “A total of 47 bodies have been exhumed from two of the 11 mass graves discovered in Tikrit, an Iraqi government official said Tuesday.”

The remains will be sent to Baghdad for DNA testing. Many families are still waiting for answers from the Iraqi government about what happened to their relatives.

The operation to liberate Tikrit from the Islamic State began in early March, led by Iran-backed, Shiite militias and Iraqi security forces. After three weeks, the offensive stalled, and the Iraqi government requested U.S. airstrikes to issue Islamic State militants a decisive defeat.

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