Mass Grave With 400 Bodies Found in Iraq

BAGHDAD (dpa/TNS) -

A mass grave containing the remains of about 400 people was found near the Islamic State-controlled city of Fallujah where government forces are pressing on with an offensive to retake it from the extremist terror group, military sources said Sunday.

Iraqi forces uncovered the grave in Fallujah’s northwestern suburb of Saqalawiya Sunday, a day after the government said it recaptured the largely agricultural area from Islamic State.

“Most of the remains belonged to military personnel who were detained and killed by the organization,” a military official said, referring to Islamic State.

There was no government confirmation.

Saqalawiya and Fallujah were among the first areas seized by Islamic State in western Iraq in early 2014.

Six months later, the radical Sunni group stormed through northern Iraq, taking the country’s second-largest city, Mosul.

Two weeks ago, government troops, backed by allied Shiite militiamen and a U.S.-led air alliance, started an onslaught to retake Fallujah, about 30 miles west of Baghdad.

The forces Sunday drove Islamic State fighters from several southern suburbs of Fallujah, boosting their advance on the city, said Yasser Khalaf, an army commander.