In the shadow of an earthen dam and buried under rubble and trash scattered across the al-Sadah waste ground lies one of the most frightening places in Baghdad at the peak of Iraq's sectarian slaughter. Beneath the detritus and shacks since constructed on the killing field is buried what may be one of the largest unopened mass graves in the Iraq capital, a macabre testimony to the darker days of the country's war. Tens of thousands of Iraqis were killed or went missing in the sectarian conflict in 2006-2007 unleashed by the U.S.-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Many of the missing were never found, and as the last U.S. troops leave Iraq, the excavation of mass graves that may provide answers for the relatives of the dead is considered a critical step in healing after years of war. Some believe al-Sadah in eastern Baghdad, one of 41 unexcavated mass graves known to the Iraqi Human Rights Ministry in the capital and its outskirts, contains hundreds of bodies buried just a few centimeters beneath the dirt.
The Human Rights Ministry and security officials say al-Sadah is not the largest mass grave left by militant groups since 2003, but it might the biggest created by the Shi'ite militias in Baghdad and still untouched. "The dam extends for a distance of 25 km (15 miles), bordering many large Shi'ite neighborhoods, and was used by all the Shi'ite militias without exception," Mohammed said.
The people of the US was told, prior to the invasion, that Saddam had put 300,000 people in mass graves. Some of those graves were found, one of the largest in Hilla. But the number of people in those graves did not number even 10% of that number presented. But since the war of aggression on Iraq, many more have been put in mass graves. In Najaf alone, there were 40,000 unidentified bodies buried by July 2007. The mass grave being uncovered above is one of many. Our war and occupation of Iraq resulted in many more mass graves than under Saddam’s regime.