Iraq’s government announced last week that it had retaken the city of Tikrit from ISIS — its biggest victory yet against the hardline Islamist group, which began a surge across the country last summer.
In the June 2014 massacre, between 1,500 and 1,700 Iraqi soldiers and security force members were captured from the former U.S. army base Camp Speicher and killed, according to a UN report. It was ISIS's single deadliest reported attack thus far, according to Human Rights Watch, which puts the minimum death toll lower than the UN and says at least 770 of those abducted were executed.
A member of one of the forensic teams said his group had uncovered 20 bodies that they believed to be Camp Speicher victims, Reuters reported on Monday. It is not yet known how many bodies might be in the graves.
A number of mass graves are being found in northern Iraq in areas where ISIS has ceded territory, BuzzFeed News reported from three such sites in February.
Iraq's next big challenge is to recapture the city of Mosul, an ISIS stronghold and a much more difficult target. The campaign to recapture Tikrit required additional militias plus the eventual assistance of U.S. air support, raising concerns about the government's readiness to take back Mosul.
Shyamantha Asokan is a foreign news reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Shyamantha Asokan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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