Human Rights

Iraq: Residents of Mosul Commemorate the Khafsa Massacre


Residents of the Iraqi city of Mosul demand that that Khafsa mass grave near Hamam al-Alil be exhumed so that they can identify the bodies of their loved ones.

Residents from the city of Mosul and the wider Nineveh Province have called for the bodies of loved ones, who were killed by ISIS militants and dumped in a mass grave known as “al-Khafsa“, to be exhumed so that they can be buried.

Al-Khafsa, which is approximately 35m deep and lies 8km southwest of Mosul, is one of the largest mass graves in Iraq, with estimates ranging between 3,000 to anywhere up to 25,000 people still in the hole.

Authorities are still unable to retrieve or identify any of the bodies due to the prevalence of landmines that ISIS militants planted when retreating from the area in February 2017.

For family members of those believed to be in the hole, this is a tragic and distressing reality.

“There is no grave for my son to visit. On the holidays, his mother and I bring out his clothes and hug them,” said Abdul Kareem al-Haran. “During the occupation of ISIS, cigarettes were forbidden. I still have a pack with three cigarettes and a lighter as a memory.”

“ISIS militants kidnapped my father and we do not know where he was buried,” said the son of another victim. “We asked about the matter and they said that officers and members of the security forces were buried in the Khafsah Hole.”

“My cousin Raed Abdul Razzaq was an investigating officer at the Hammam al-Alil court,” said Fares Eisa Ahmed, the relative of one those thought to have been buried at al-Khafsa. “We told him to go to Erbil but he refused. ISIS kidnapped him from his home and we do not know where he was buried.”