Nearly 100 decapitated civilians were found Monday by Iraqi Security Forces in a mass grave outside the Islamic State-held city of Mosul.
The mass grave was reportedly discovered in a surrounding town of Mosul, in a school for Agricultural science. “Gangs of ISIS militants continue to commit crimes against our people,” the Iraqi Security Forces said in a statement. Most of the decapitated bodies decomposed to skeletons by the time of discovery, the Associated Press reports. The Iraqi military said the state of the bodies made identification difficult.
ISIS seized Mosul in June, 2014, and perpetrated multiple barbaric crimes while ruling the city. The United Nations believes nearly 1.5 million civilians remain in the city of Mosul, with tens of thousands used as human shields.
The U.S.-backed Iraqi Security Force’s began the assault on Mosul in mid-October, and entered the city of Mosul November 1. ISIS forces remain heavily entrenched within the city, deploying dozens of suicide bombers against Iraqi positions. The U.S. is assisting the Iraqi-led push with precision munitions to ensure minimal civilian loss of life.
Amid the intense military operation, humanitarian activists are pleading with U.S. and Iraqi military planners to establish a humanitarian corridor out of the city. U.S. planners fear that beleaguered ISIS fighters will try and blend in with the nearly million civilians left inside the city, and the Iraqi government is instead advising civilians to remain in their homes.
The ISIS tactic of laying explosives throughout Mosul and its surrounding villages, is deepening fears civilians will not be able to return to their homes. “We think it will last for several years to decontaminate the area. The type of contamination and the type of explosive hazard is very new and different from what the de-mining world has known so far,” head of mission in Iraq for Handicap International told US News and World Report.
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