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Mystery Kirkuk graves examined

Some reports say as many as 1,600 graves at site

Reporters and officials walk near an unmarked grave Thursday in Kirkuk, Iraq.
Reporters and officials walk near an unmarked grave Thursday in Kirkuk, Iraq.

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KIRKUK, Iraq (CNN) -- Shallow graves found on the edge of a military base southwest of Kirkuk could provide answers to the whereabouts of Iraqis who disappeared under the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Coalition forces will work with the Iraqis in the coming days to determine who is buried there, Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks of U.S. Central Command said Friday.

"We do have some indications that there are some shallow graves that may have been found in the north," Brooks said, when asked about the Kirkuk graves.

"Those graves have to be examined before we can tell exactly what the circumstances are. There are concerns that it may be people from the population in that area," he said.

Two bodies were exhumed Wednesday in an effort to find out who is buried at the newly discovered grave site. Nearby residents told CNN's Jane Arraf that the graves are at least 12 years old.

The site could be a military burial ground, but suspicions were raised because the rows of mounds indicate the bodies were buried in a hurry.

Some reports indicated there may be as many as 1,600 graves at the site. U.S. Special Forces will take measurements of the field.

Iraqi citizens have been scouring documents from looted government buildings across Iraq in an effort to find some clue to the fates of their missing relatives.

Many Iraqi soldiers never returned from the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, the first Gulf War in 1991, and the latest conflict. The number of people missing is as high as 1 million, according to some estimates.


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