Tikrit had been seized by IS in June of 2014, and despite heavy fighting, the Iraqi government could not retake the city until about a week ago, with the help of Shiite militias. During Tikrit’s occupation, IS was reported to have murdered over 1,500 Iraqi Air Force personnel from Camp Speicher, located in the city. Iraq’s human rights ministry put forward an official number of 1678 military personnel missing since IS captured the city, presumed dead, with the Islamic State claiming to have killed 1,700.
On Monday a mass grave was found with bodies close to that number. A former IS prisoner who was forced to contribute to digging the mass grave identified its location, with various items from the dead men strewn about: ID cards, wallets, and shirts among them.