Iraqi authorities on Friday announced they had unearthed a mass grave containing the remains of hundreds of Badush prison inmates who were killed by ISIS militants in the aftermath of the invasion of Mosul in mid-2014.
As ISIS overran Mosul early June 2014, its militants took control of the Badush Prison complex and executed more than 670 inmates en masse. The victims were believed to be primarily from the country's Shia community.
Members of the terrorist organization drove the prisoners to the nearest desert area about two kilometers away from the facility, shot them, and burned the bodies of some of them a day later.
Survivors of the mass killing told Human Rights Watch (HRW) in 2014 that ISIS militants "separated the Sunni from the Shia inmates, then forced the Shia men to kneel along the edge of a nearby ravine and shot them with assault rifles and automatic weapons."
"The gunmen also killed a number of Kurdish and Yezidi inmates of Badoush Prison," the survivors added.
The Iraqi forces retook the town of Badush in March 2017 as part of battles that ended with the defeat of ISIS in Nineveh province at the end of the same year.
The Department of Mass Graves Affairs and Protection said in a statement that it had begun to unearth one of the mass graves that includes the remains of 500 to 600 inmates who were killed "on sectarian grounds."
The director of the department, Dhiaa al-Saadi, said that the mass grave "was found in 2017 but the unstable security conditions in the region and the lack of financial support prevented" the unearthing process.
The victims' remains are to be removed on Sunday in cooperation with Iraq's Medical Forensic Department and the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da'esh/ISIL (UNITAD) and the International Commission on Missing Persons.
Iraq contains more than 200 mass graves, with nearly half of them dating back to the Saddam Hussein era, the authorities have said. The Department of Mass Graves Affairs and Protection teams have found 98 sites the previous regime left behind from its ethnic cleansing and mass killing campaigns.
Of those mass graves, the government has unearthed 76. The department has also identified 112 sites ISIS created, of which about 30 have been unearthed.
According to official data, the remains of 6,393 have so far been exhumed from mass graves around the country.