SAMAWAH, Iraq, April 30 (UPI) -- The bodies of 113 people, nearly all women and children, have been found in a mass grave in southern Iraq, U.S. officials said Saturday.
The grave is believed to hold far more bodies, perhaps as many as 1,500, the Washington Post reported.
Investigators said the non-acidic soil at the grave site preserved the bodies of the Kurds, believed to have been slaughtered during one of Saddam Hussein's pogroms against Kurds.
The recovered bodies, found about 150 miles southeast of Baghdad near the city of Samawah, are expected to used as evidence against the deposed Iraqi president by prosecutors at a special tribunal.
"These were not combatants," said Gregg Nivala, a member of a U.S. team investigating crimes committed by Hussein's government and assisting the tribunal. "These were women and children."
The grave comprises 18 trenches, which Iraqi forces apparently dug with front loaders before killing the victims with rifle shots as they stood on the edge of the trenches.