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Middle East

Iraqi military discovers mass grave near Mosul

Some 100 decapitated bodies have been discovered on the outskirts of Mosul, said Iraq's army. Baghdad has launched a military campaign to liberate the city from the "Islamic State" militant group.

An Iraqi soldier inspects a wreckage of a vehicle destroyed in clashes with Islamic State fighters

A member of Iraqi security forces inspects a wreckage of a vehicle destroyed by clashes in Hammam al-Alil, south of Mosul, during an operation to attack "Islamic State" militants in Mosul

The Iraqi military said it discovered a mass grave containing approximately 100 headless bodies in the town of Hammam al-Alil, 14 kilometers (8 miles) south of Mosul.

"Iraqi forces found … 100 bodies of citizens with their heads cut off" at an agricultural college, a statement from the armed forces said.

Iraqi forces, backed by a US-led coalition, last month launched a campaign to recapture Mosul from the "Islamic State" militant group.

Joint Military Command spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Rasool said the bodies had been reduced to skeletons.

Rasool added that it was not possible to immediately identify whether they were the bodies of soldiers or civilians.

A forensics team from the capital Baghdad will investigate the site on Tuesday.

In June, Iraqi forces discovered a mass grave containing the remains of approximately 400 people near the city of Fallujah during an offensive to recapture the city from the "Islamic State."

Liberating Mosul

The operation to liberate Mosul has brought together an alliance of 100,000 fighters led by the Iraqi army, including the Kurdish peshmerga and Shiite militias backed by US-led airstrikes.

However, the alliance has only gained a small foothold in Mosul since launch its campaign.

Shortly after capturing the city in June 2014, "Islamic State" leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the establishment of a so-called "caliphate" from the pulpit of a historical mosque in the predominantly Sunni Muslim city.

ls/kl (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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