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An Iraqi Kurdish woman is crying at the site of a mass grave of victims believed to be from Saddam Hussein's regime, exhumed by Baghdad-based forensic leadership in Tal al-Sheikhiya, 300 km south of Baghdad on July 30, 2019. Haidar HAMDANI / AFP

At the Forensic Institute of Baghdad, forensic scientists are hard at work to establish the identities of the victims found in hundreds of mass graves across the country, a macabre legacy of decades of conflict in Iraq.

With our correspondent in Baghdad, Lucile Wassermann

At the entrance of the Forensic Institute of Baghdad, dozens of clothes strew the ground, still impregnated with the putrid smell of death. They belong to Yazidis, exhumed last month in northern Iraq, where more than 70 mass graves were discovered. In the laboratory, about thirty specialists examine the bones, in search of an identity. " Here we determine sex, age, pathologies, trauma, and so on. "Enumerates a doctor.

All bodies from mass graves in Iraq are transferred to this laboratory. These are mostly the victims of Daesh, but also, those of Saddam Hussein sometimes executed more than 30 years ago. " These remains will be difficult to examine. They are not in good condition, "says the same doctor.

In total, more than 1,350 different DNAs were registered in 2018. For Dr. Meshni, in charge of these analyzes, it is a question of truth and justice that is currently being played out in Iraq. " Many people have disappeared in different areas of Iraq, and it is unclear where and who exactly is responsible for these crimes. Our job is to answer and explain that, especially to the people who are investigating, "he explains.

These elements of answers for the families are also so much evidence " central " according to the UN, to guarantee future lawsuits and convictions "in conformity with the international standards ".