Iraq identifies 6 victims from mass graves in IS-free Ramadi

BAGHDAD (AP) — Six bodies have been identified so far from two mass graves unearthed this week in the western city of Ramadi, nearly four months after Iraqi forces routed Islamic State militants from the Anbar provincial capital, officials said Thursday.

Arrested Islamic State militants had led authorities on Tuesday to the mass graves inside the city's soccer stadium, believed to contain up to 40 bodies. Some of the victims were blindfolded and had their hands tied, Iraqi officials had said earlier.

The city's mayor, Ibrahim al-Osag, told The Associated Press that the six identified victims included a policeman, his wife and son, two security personnel and a civilian. Al-Osag said the bodies, and those of some two dozen other people were reburied after DNA samples were taken.

Councilman Athal al-Fahdawi said 32 bodies have been exhumed so far, and authorities are waiting for more forensic teams to come to Ramadi as many government employees have yet to return to their jobs after fleeing from the violence. Ramadi fell to IS in May 2015 and was liberated in December.

There have been many instances of mass graves being uncovered in territory wrested from IS militants in Iraq and Syria — thousands of people have been killed in summary and extrajudicial killings by the Sunni militants and the graves have been a dark testimony to the group's brutality.

In June 2014, some 1,700 Iraqi soldiers were captured and then killed by IS militants when they overran Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit. At the time, the soldiers were trying to flee from Camp Speicher, a nearby army base where they were deployed. Mass graves with hundreds of Iraqi soldiers' bodies were found after the city was liberated in April 2015.