The reported ISIS "sinkhole of death" outside of Mosul could hold countless bodies allegedly killed by the terrorist organization.
Iraqi police and human rights organizations charged that the Islamic State used the large sinkhole, about a mile off the Baghdad-Mosul highway, as an area to dump those executed after ISIS took control of Mosul in 2014, The Daily Beast reported.
The website wrote that ISIS forces hunted down anyone connected with the Iraqi security forces and brought them to the sinkhole, or khasfa, to be executed and their bodies disposed of.
"We used to buy petrol at the refinery, and Daesh (ISIS) would stop us and make us watch the executions," Mahmoud, who did not give his last name out of fear, said, according The Daily Beast.
The Washington Post reported that before 2003, the sinkhole was a small Mosul tourist attraction, about five miles away from the city. Al-Qaeda first started to use the sinkhole as a desert grave site when violence broke out against the Iraqi government, the newspaper noted.
The Islamic State began using the sinkhole on a large scale once it took over Mosul. Hussam al-Abar, a provincial council member, said as many as 3,000 to 5,000 corpses might be in the sinkhole, the Post reported.
"It was known that whoever wanted to hide a body could drop it in this hole," Abar said, according to the Post.
Human Rights Watch said satellite images showed that the sinkhole was filled with dirt from March to June, 2015, according to The Independent. Families of victims claimed that some prisoners were shot at the site while others were pushed over the edge.
Human Rights Watch has been documenting activity at the khasfa using satellite images, which showed the natural sinkhole being filled with earth between March and June 2015.
"I don't know of any other mass graves in Iraq that come anywhere near that," Belkis Wille, a senior Iraq researcher for Human Rights Watch, told The Independent.
Shifa Gardi, a Kurdish television reporter, died last week with a militia commander and four others when they accidentally set off an explosive device near the sinkhole, the Post reported.
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