Mass Grave Points to IS Horrors to Come in Push for Mosul
HAMAM AL-ALIL, Iraq — For months, Islamic State group fighters drove thousands of civilians on forced marches across the Nineveh desert into the small town of Hamam al-Alil. Retreating ahead of methodical Iraqi advances on Mosul’s southern approach, IS fighters converged here, rounding up men, women and children for use as human shields and killing dozens of others.
When Iraqi forces began to close in on this cluster of villages along the Tigris River valley, most of the militants fled into Mosul, taking thousands of civilians with them. But before the retreat, IS fighters also led hundreds to a garbage dump past an old IS training camp and shot them dead, leaving the bodies among the piles of trash.
A week after Hamam al-Alil was retaken from IS, and days after a delegation from the central government in Baghdad visited the site, about a dozen bodies remain strewn among piles of garbage on the western edge of the town. The bodies that remained were the ones family members were unable to identify. Some had been decapitated, other have their hands and feet bound. Iraqi officials at the scene said the men were killed for alleged spying in aid of the operation to retake Mosul or having links to the Iraqi government’s security forces.