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MASS GRAVE MAY HOLD BODIES OF 1,500 KURDS

Investigators have uncovered a large grave in Iraq that may contain the bodies of 1,500 Kurds killed in the 1980s. It could produce evidence needed to prosecute ousted leader Saddam Hussein and his top lieutenants for mass killings during his regime.

International forensic experts last week examined the mass grave site in Samawa, on the Euphrates River, about 230 miles southeast of Baghdad.

Many of those buried in the 18 trenches were believed to be Kurds killed in 1987 and 1988 during a scorched-earth campaign, said Gregg Nivala of the U.S. government's Regime Crimes Liaison Office.

"These were not combatants," he said. "They were women and children."

During the campaign, hundreds of thousands of Kurds were killed or expelled from northern Iraq and replaced with Arabs.

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