Egyptian Christians in orange jumpsuits just before their execution by ISIS henchmen.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Officials with the Ministry of Health in Iraq announced Thursday that they have exhumed the remains of over 470 bodies from what they believe was a mass execution conducted by militants near Tikrit, known as the Speicher massacre.
“We have exhumed the bodies of 470 Speicher martyrs from burial sites in Tikrit,” Adila Hammoud said at a press conference in Baghdad, referring to the nearby military base that the massacre was named after, according to AFP.
In June 2014, ISIS militants overran and abducted hundreds of mostly Shi'ite male recruits at the Speicher military base, located on the outskirts of Tikrit.
Pictures and footage which have emerged since the time of the incident depict the Shi'ite youths being executed one by one in various locations.
Some estimates put the total of those killed in Tikrit at 17,000, accounting for similar mass executions that have taken place throughout the city in what some have called one of the worst atrocities ever committed by the Islamic State.
“These bodies come from four burial sites... One of them was bigger than the others and contained 400,” said Ziad Ali Abbas, the chief doctor at Baghdad’s main morgue, AFP added.
Hundreds of families whose fathers, brothers and sons went missing since the ISIS-led offensive into Iraq are waiting to hear the results of preliminary forensic examinations designed to identify the remains of loved ones, conducted by local authorities and the Red Cross.
Officials said Thursday that the first list of names would be released next week.