Mass graves in Iraq
Four distinct groups of mass burials have been reported from Iraq since the start of military conflict between Iraq and the United States in 1990. Oddly, the reported number of bodies suspected buried in mass graves in Iraq as a result of Saddam Hussein's murders coincides approximatley with the number previously reported for all four groups.
Four groups of mass burials of Iraqis include:
- pre-1991 burials of those murdered by the regime of Saddam Hussein or who died in conflicts with Iran,
- victims of Gulf War I, including Iraqi civilians and soldiers who died in a country-wide bombing campaign in which the US targeted civilian infrastucture such as communications, sanitation plants, fresh water facilities, transportation networks and unidentified factories,
- between-the-wars burials of those murdered by Hussein's regime, including those killed during an unsuccesful uprising encouraged by U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush after Gulf War I,
- victims of Gulf War II (Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom II), including civilians and soldiers killed by US troops, and by a retreating Iraqi leadership.
Official U.S. communications in late 2003 referred to only the first and third group of casualties, specifically those casualties that support the U.S. war doctrine by indicating Hussein's was an unusually murderous regime. Islamic critics say U.S. propaganda efforts related to the wars include "avoidance of mentioning civilian Muslim casualties in Afghanistan or Iraq."
In reports emerging six months into the United States occupation of Iraq, a U.S. human rights attorney, Sandra Hodgkinson, reported 300,000 bodies have been reportedly buried in some 260 mass graves in Iraq.
- "We have found mass graves of women and children, with bullet holes in their heads and we have found mass graves of husbands and fathers out in the desert where they were buried," Hodgkinson said.
- "We met survivors who crawled out of mass graves after being buried alive. We met with families whose loved ones did not escape," suggesting the graves contain exclusively the bodies of those killed by the regime of Saddam Hussein.
In a retrospective of the 1991 war, the BBC reports:
- "Estimates for the number of Iraqi soldiers killed range from 60,000 to 200,000 soldiers - an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 in the ground war alone. Nobody knows how many civilians died in the war, but estimates for civilian deaths as a direct result of the war range from 100,000 to 200,000."
- "At the time, U.S. officials estimated Hussein's armies killed between 30,000 and 60,000 Shiite Iraqis after the 1991 uprising."
(Note: This article is a stub, pending more information about the contents of mass graves, compiliation of sources already gathered and verification that US accounts do not include review of mass burials resulting from the US bombing campaign started Jan. 15, 1991.)