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Iraq unearths mass grave of Kurds killed by Saddam

SAMAWA, Apr 14 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 4/14/2019 12:57:50 PM IST

Iraq must never forget Saddam Hussein’s crimes or allow his party to return, President Barham Salih said on Sunday after attending the unearthing of a mass grave of Kurds killed by the former leader’s forces three decades ago.

According to Reuters, the grave, found in the desert about 170 km (106 miles) west of the city of Samawa, contained the remains of dozens of Kurds made to “disappear” by Saddam’s forces, Salih’s office said.

They were among up to 180,000 people who may have been killed during Saddam’s “Anfal” campaign that targeted Iraqi Kurds in the late 1980s when chemical gas was used, villages were razed and thousands of Kurds were forced into camps.

“He killed them because they did not accept the continuation of this regime, because they wanted to live a free and dignified life,” Salih, a Kurd, told a news conference at the grave site.

“He brought them to Samawa to bury them but our people in Samawa embraced them,” Salih added. Iraq’s southern provinces are predominantly inhabited by Shi’ite Arabs, who also suffered oppression and mass killings under Saddam, a Sunni Arab.

“The new Iraq must never forget these crimes that were committed against Iraqi people from all groups,” he said.

Meanwhile, according to Rudaw report, Kurdistan Region Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani on Saturday confirmed that the mass graves discovered in Iraq’s southern Muthanna Governorate contain the remains of Kurds killed during Saddam Hussein’s Anfal campaign,. 

Muthanna Provincial Council told Rudaw there are four mass graves at the site, estimated to contain up to 200 bodies. 

Farqan Sahib, a volunteer working at the site of the discovery, told Rudaw he had seen the remains of a mother with “a baby in her arms and another next to her”.

In a Facebook post on Saturday night, Talabani said “initial indications have shown that it contains the honorable Anfal [victims] of Kurdistan.” 

Thanking the governor of Muthanna, Ahmed Manfi Jawda, who announced the discovery on Friday, Talabani said a delegation from the Kurdistan Region’s Martyrs and Anfal Affairs Ministry will soon visit Baghdad to investigate. 

“Expert teams will soon start working to reveal the identity [of the victims] and later return the bodies to the sacred land of Kurdistan,” Talabani added. 

Although the identity of those buried at the site has not been independently verified, Muthanna governor Jawda said he suspects the grave contains the remains of Kurdish victims of the Anfal campaign.

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