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Iraqi Forces Find Mass Graves In Oil Wells Near Kirkuk

Iraq’s security forces have found mass graves inside oil wells in an area in northeastern Iraq close to the oil-rich Kirkuk, and they believe the bodies are of civilians executed by ISIS, a security source told local media on Monday.

Iraq will now collect DNA samples to identify the victims, the security source told The Baghdad Post.

This is not the first time a mass grave has been uncovered by Iraqi forces who have recaptured almost all of Iraq’s territory formerly held by ISIS militants.

A week ago, Iraqi authorities said that mass graves full of bodies of civilians executed by Islamic State terrorists were found in the province of Kirkuk.

In 2014, the oil-rich Kirkuk was overran by ISIS who drove Iraqi forces out of the city. But the Kurdish Peshmerga forces expelled ISIS out of Kirkuk and had held the city for more than two years before Iraq moved on last month to reclaim the oil-rich area after Kurdistan’s independence referendum that Baghdad fiercely opposed.

In the middle of October, Iraq’s government forces completed an operation to seize control of all oil fields that Iraqi state-held North Oil Company operates in the Kirkuk region from Kurdish forces.

Related: Who's Next? Venezuela's Collapse Puts These Nations At Risk

Since the Iraqi federal forces moved to retake the fields in Kirkuk, oil flows in the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline between Kirkuk’s oil fields to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan have been volatile, and Iraq has boosted its oil exports from the southern Basra port to make up for lost exports on the Kirkuk-Ceyhan route.

Ceyhan loadings out of Kirkuk crude have dropped, while loadings of Basrah Light so far in November are at their highest pace since September of last year, lifting total southern Iraqi exports so far this month to the highest since March, according to ClipperData.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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