Iraq on Tuesday began exhuming the remains of dozens of victims, including children, likely killed during Saddam Hussein's campaign against the country's Kurds, a forensics official told Agence France Presse.
The mass grave was uncovered in Tal al-Sheikhiya, about 300 kilometers south of Baghdad, said Zaid al-Youssef, the head of Baghdad's Medico-Legal Directorate which is tasked with identifying the remains.
"More than 70 bodies including women and children, ranging from newborns to 10 years old" have so far been exhumed, Youssef said.
Those remains were recovered from the surface layer of the site, he said, but "there could be a second deeper layer" with additional bodies.
"The evidence collected indicates they were summarily executed in 1988," said Youssef, which coincides with Saddam's brutal "Anfal" campaign against Iraq's Kurds.
The operation took place between 1987 and 1988 and saw nearly 180,000 Kurds killed and more than 3,000 villages destroyed.
Meanwhile, a United Nations panel that oversees compensation claims stemming from Iraq’s 1990-1991 invasion of Kuwait said it has paid out $270 million to Kuwait’s national oil company.
The Geneva-based UN Compensation Commission said Tuesday the tranche brings to $48.7 billion the amount it has paid out. Iraq must currently set aside 1.5 percent of proceeds from oil exports for the compensation fund and payments are made once per quarter.
The panel has approved 1.5 million claims brought by over 100 governments and international organizations, with all but one fully paid out.
The remaining claim, which includes the latest payment, comes from the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation. Some $3.7 billion of its $14.7 billion claim for oil production and sales losses resulting from damage to the country’s oil fields remains to be paid.