Nearly 500 bodies exhumed from mass graves in Iraq

According to the Iraqi Health Minister the total is 'not final'

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The Independent Online

An Iraqi forensic team has exhumed 499 bodies from a series of graves in the presidential complex in Tikrit.

The bodies are believed to be Iraqi military cadets, whom Isis took responsibility for killing in June 2014 at an Iraqi base, Camp Speicher.

"We have exhumed the bodies of 470 Speicher martyrs from burial sites in Tikrit," Iraqi Health Minister, Adila Hammoud said at a press conference in Baghdad.

"There were several layers of bodies all piled on top of each other," he said, adding that 50 bodies were found in a second site and nine more in the two remaining graves.

"The work to exhume Speicher victims continues," Hammoud said.

"The morgue also continues its work to identify the bodies... It's complicated work. It's a huge case. It takes a lot of work to identify the victims," she said.

The remains are being kept for tests by a forensics team in Baghdad’s central morgue.

Ziad Ali Abbas the chief doctor at Baghdad's main morgue, said there were only 20 sufficiently qualified forensic scientists in Iraq, Kurdistan not included, capable of contributing to the investigation.

The bodies have not been handed back to families as the team is currently searching for other mass graves in the city.

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