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Posted: 10/13/2004 10:41:52 AM EDT
Bodies of babies found in Saddam's 'killing field'


Bodies of babies found in Saddam's 'killing field'
By Joe Murphy, Evening Standard Political Editor
13 October 2004

A mass grave containing the bodies of children, babies and their mothers has been unearthed in Iraq.

Shocked investigators reported finding "thighbones the size of matchsticks" at what they believe is the site of one of Saddam Hussein's atrocities. Among the findings-were the skeletons of unborn babies and toddlers clutching toys.

A baby had been shot in the back of its head and was found still being clutched by its mother, who had been shot in the face. The discovery was reported as Tony Blair came under mounting pressure to apologise to Parliament for the misleading intelligence claiming Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.

It will strengthen the Prime Minister's case that despite the intelligencefailures the war to topple the Iraqi dictator was justified by his record as a mass killer of his own people. Mr Blair is facing MPs for the first time since the Iraq Survey Group report last week admitted there were no illegal chemical and biological weapons in Iraq.

Liberal Democrat leader Charles

Kennedy demanded he make a full Commons statement on the findings but Mr Blair was hoping to escape by merely answering questions at his regular weekly appearance.

The mass grave was being excavated near Hatra, a village in northern Iraq with a large Kurdish population. US-led investigators have located nine trenches so far containing hundreds of bodies, believed to be Kurds killed during the repression of the Eighties. The bodies had been bulldozed into the ground.

Evidence from the graves will be used at the Iraqi Special Tribunal where Saddam will face trial for war crimes. "It is my personal opinion that this is a killing field," said Greg Kehoe, a US official. "Someone used this field on significant occasions over time to take people up there and execute them."

One trench contains only women and children while another contains only men. "The youngest foetus we have was 18 to 20 foetal weeks," said a US investigating anthropologist. "Tiny bones, femurs - thighbones the size of a matchstick."

Some 300,000 people are thought to have been killed during Saddam's regime. Iraq's human rights ministry has reportedly identified 40 possible mass graves across the country.

Meanwhile, Saddam underwent an operation to repair a hernia about 10 days ago and has made a full recovery, Iraqi sources said today.

He has been in US custody since 13 December and appeared in court in July for a preliminary hearing.

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