Islamic militants carried out mass killing of Iraqi soldiers
Militants from the Islamic State group carried out a mass killing of hundreds of Iraqi soldiers captured when the extremists overran a military base north of Baghdad in June, a leading international watchdog has said.
The grisly details emerged as the angry family of a Libyan soldier beheaded by ISIS also called for justice.
The mass-killing at Camp Speicher, an airbase that previously served as a US military facility, was one of the worst atrocities perpetrated by the Islamic State group in its offensive that seized large swaths of northern and western Iraq.
According to Human Rights Watch, new evidence indicates the Islamic State fighters killed between 560 and 770 men captured at Camp Speicher, near the city of Tikrit - a figure several times higher than what was initially reported.
"These are horrific and massive abuses, atrocities by the Islamic State, and on a scale that clearly rises to the crimes against humanity," Fred Abrahams, special HRW adviser, told reporters in the northern city of Irbil yesterday.
The al-Qaida breakaway group claimed in mid-June that it had "executed" about 1,700 soldiers and military personnel from Camp Speicher. The group also posted graphic photos that appeared to show its gunmen massacring scores of Iraqi soldiers after loading the captives onto flatbed trucks and then forcing them to lie face-down in a shallow ditch, their arms tied behind their backs.
After the incident, the soldiers were listed as missing, prompting families to stage demonstrations in Baghdad in an effort to pressure authorities for word on their sons' fate.
The Human Rights Watch statement said the revised figure for the slain soldiers was based on analysis of new satellite imagery, militant videos and a survivor's account that confirmed the existence of three more "mass execution sites".
Meanwhile, thousands of angry mourners buried a Lebanese soldier beheaded by Islamic militants after an emotional funeral march, accusing the government of neglect for failing to negotiate his release.
The furore over the gruesome death of Sergeant Ali Sayid (29) came as the government races to try to free around 24 more members of the country's security forces who remain held captive by Syria-based militants.