On April 6, Iraqi forensic teams have started exhuming bodies from eight mass graves of military cadets massacred by the ISIS. In one of the sites, a man stole a bag of bones he said belonged to his son. Asked how he sure he was, the old man broke down in tears, saying he just wanted to bring any bones he could get to show his wife, who has not stopped crying since their son went missing June 12 last year.
The old man
As Iraqi forensic teams began working on the mass graves, soldiers noticed an old man trying to sneak away a large trash bag. One of the soldiers approached him and asked what was inside the bag.
“This is my son,” the old man was quoted as saying by The New York Times, citing local Iraqiya television channel.
The soldiers looked inside the bag and saw piles of bones. However, there was no single proof of identification, according to an official leading the exhumations, Haider Majeed.
“How do you know that’s your son?” the soldiers asked the man, who then broke down to tears.
“I swear to God, I just wanted to take these bones to show to his mother and say, ‘This is our son,’ to stop her from crying, because she’s been crying for 10 months,” he said.
The old man’s son is one among 1,700 soldiers massacred by the ISIS as they were trying to escape Camp Speicher in Tikrit on June 12 2014. The ISIS had even posted graphic videos and photos of how they conducted the massacre.
“We dug up the first mass grave site today. Initial indications show indisputably that they were from the Speicher victims,” Khalid al-Atbi, an Iraqi health official working with the forensic team, said.
“It was a heartbreaking scene. We couldn’t prevent ourselves from breaking down in tears. What savage barbarian could kill 1,700 persons in cold blood?” al-Atbi added.
A look back to the exact moment the soldiers were massacred
Ali Hussein Kadhim survived the massacre. In September, he told Human Rights Watch the whole ordeal.
Together with the other captives, Kadhim was made to march into Tikrit escorted by armed ISIS members. When they were already near Tikrit University, a separate group of ISIS stopped them and said they would be returned home instead.
However, the ISIS got their mobile phones, stole their money and drove them to a palace grounds, where all 100 of them were crammed inside a shipping container for six hours. Some of the captives already died at that point due to dehydration.
By 5 p.m., the ISIS let them out of the containers. All 100 of them were then divided into smaller groups, and each group was brought into different locations.
From where he was brought, Ali said he could hear gunshots from executions being conducted in different sites. The ISIS then tied their hands at their backs and covered their eyes with black cloths. They were forced to bend over as they walk, each of them biting the end of the shirt of the man ahead of them.
The ISIS then lined them up and shot each of them with a pistol. Kadhim shared how he peeked through his blindfold and saw that the man ahead of him was already shot, falling to the ground. He was not hit, but he acted to have also fallen to the ground, pretending to be dead.
He said he waited until nightfall. When the surroundings were silent, he escaped toward the nearby river bank where he was finally safe.
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