Iraqi authorities announced on Sunday that they unearthed 123 bodies from one of the worst crimes ISIS carried out after it seized control of a third of Iraq in a lightning offensive between 2014-2017.
In June 2014, ISIS attacked Badush prison, freeing and loading 600 prisoners, mainly Shiite inmates, onto trucks, before driving them to a ravine and shooting them.
A mass grave was discovered after Iraqi forces retook control of the area in March 2017.
The mass grave is one of more than 200 the extremist group left behind in its rampage of brutality, according to the United Nations. The remains of up to 12,000 people are believed to be buried in these graves, the UN says, which has accused ISIS of having committed genocide in Iraq.
“Thousands of families are waiting to know what happened to their relatives,” Najm Al Jubburi, governor of the Nineveh province where the prison is located, told AFP.
One of those waiting for closure in Iraq is Abbas Mohammed, whose son was jailed at Badush following his arrest by US forces in 2005.
“After 17 years of not knowing whether my son is alive or dead, I need an answer,” he told AFP.
“Work conditions are difficult,” Saleh Ahmed, a member of government commission tasked with identifying the “martyrs”, said at the site of the Badush mass grave.
“The heat is overwhelming. Some remains are entangled, and there are snakes and scorpions everywhere,” he said, as 30 workers carried out the grim task of removing bodies from the grave.