Security forces found a mass grave in the Iraqi city of Ramadi containing the remains of at least 18 people killed by the Islamic state [IS] group, police said on Tuesday.
Ramadi was recaptured at the end of last month from IS, which overran large parts of Iraq in 2014 and has repeatedly carried out mass killings and other atrocities in areas it controls.
"So far, we have removed 18 bodies including five members of the police, and work is continuing to remove the remaining victims," said police Major Tariq Abd al-Karim.
The mass grave in the al-Jamiya area of central Ramadi, which was found on Monday, is "expected to contain the bodies of 40 victims," Abd al-Karim said.
He added that the victims were from Ramadi and were executed by IS in May 2015, when the militants took control of the city.
Doctor Shakir Ahmed al-Hajj said that medical staff were working to exhume the victims, who either had been shot or beheaded, and that "dozens" of bodies had been removed from the grave so far, while the work was still ongoing.
Early on Wednesday, IS fighters and suicide bombers attacked a military headquarters north of Ramadi in the al-Thirthar area.
|Ramadi was recaptured at the end of last month from IS [Getty]|
"They first blew up eight car bombs at front gate of the base and then IS fighters tried to storm the base. Clashes between us and them lasted for about an hour before they retreated," an army officer toldThe New Arab.
He added that reinforcements have arrived and a helicopter recognisance mission had been sent out to monitor any movement by militants.
In spite of the IS attack army commanders remain positive.
"IS is moving away from an offensive position towards a defensive one to protect the areas under its control in Anbar. The group has lost 30 percent of its land in the province in just a month," Major General Ismail al-Mahlawi toldThe New Arab.
The Iraqi army announced on Tuesday that US-led coalition air raids killed 40 IS fighters and wounded 38 in the Albu Shajal area north-west of IS-controlled Fallujah.
Militants had held shifting parts of Anbar capital Ramadi since early 2014, but IS only succeeded in overrunning the entirety of the city last May.
Iraqi forces recaptured Ramadi after months of fighting during which surrounding areas were retaken from the jihadists, setting up the final push into the city centre.
IS has suffered major losses since the height of its territorial control in 2014, but still controls significant areas of Anbar and Nineveh province to its north, as well as in neighbouring Syria.