In a harrowing report published Thursday, Human Rights Watch detailed the slaughter of at least 300 former Iraqi police officers held captive by Islamic State.
The officers are believed to have been buried in a mass grave 30 kilometers southeast of the IS stronghold of Mosul.
The grave was first discovered by Iraqi troops advancing on the IS-held city of Mosul on November 7. Human Rights Watch (HRW) visited the site and, after interviewing eyewitnesses, compiled a report into what actually happened in the town of Hamam al-Alil.
The mass grave, located next to an agricultural college, has not yet been fully uncovered as it is thought to be lined with booby traps. However, at least 20 bodies are visible from the surface, a number of which seem to have been beheaded. Judging by the level of decomposition, the corpses must have been killed within the last three weeks. All the visible victims had been blindfolded and had their hands and ankles bound.
These latest atrocities come as Iraqi forces, backed by the Kurdish Peshmerga and the US-led coalition, advance upon Mosul, one of the militant group’s key strongholds outside Syria. As the Islamist group retreats, it has begun rounding up and executing those who it suspects of plotting revolts to aid the advancing troops.