A newly discovered mass grave near the Anbar province city of Fallujah contains the remains of “dozens” of civilians whom Iran-backed and IRGC-made militias in Iraq apparently executed at point blank range, officials said.
Omar al-Farhan, director of the Iraqi War Crimes Documentation Centre says: It is not clear how many victims are interred at the site, which local farmers and authorities found by chance, although there appear to be “dozens”.
He added: not long after the locals discovered the mass grave, the dominant militias in the area — Iran-backed Kataib Hizbullah and Kataib al-Imam Ali — cordoned off the site in an apparent attempt to obfuscate the crime.
The human remains had protruded above the ground after heavy rains, al-Farhan said, noting that local residents found traditional Arab clothing and sportswear at the site, which indicates the victims were civilians.
The victims’ slayers tied their hands and shot them at close range, as evidenced by bullet holes in their skulls.
While the mass grave is similar to dozens of others containing the remains of ISIS victims, the newly discovered burial site is “the work of the militias, according to the testimony of the local population in the area”, he said.
This testimony has gained credence from the remarks of a Kataib al-Imam Ali leader, who goes by the name Abu Azrael (Angel of Death), in a video clip that has been circulating on social media, the Iraqi War Crimes Documentation Centre said.
In the clip, Abu Azrael describes the fate of those whom the militias detained during the war on ISIS. He claims that many Iraqi Sunnis have called him to tell him their sons have been detained since 2015, and ask to see them in prison.
“I tell them there are no detainees. They killed them,” he said, adding that at that time “sectarianism consumed anything and everything”.
Iraqi officials accuse Iran’s proxies and IRGC-made militias of forcibly disappearing at least 12,000 Iraqi residents of areas liberated from ISIS, under the pretext that they had ties to the extremist group.
Political analyst Ahmed Shawki said Iran-aligned militias took advantage of their positions in the rear of the battle lines to “hunt” families the Iraqi army was liberating from ISIS, on the pretext that they were collaborators.