Libyan government forces find mass graves, possible evidence of war crimes, in Tarhouna

Libyan government forces find mass graves, possible evidence of war crimes, in Tarhouna
Libyan government forces have found mass graves in the recently captured city of Tarhouna, containing bodies of executed detainees and children.
3 min read
11 June, 2020
Forensic teams uncovered the mass graves in Tarhouna [Facebook]

Libyan government forces announced on Wednesday evening the discovery of four mass graves in the city of Tarhouna, captured last week from militias loyal to rogue General Khalifa Haftar, the Arabic news website Arabi 21 has reported.

Photos and videos shared by the media centre of the Libyan government's "Volcano of Rage" military operation showed forensic teams from the Libyan Red Crescent excavating the mass graves.

One of the bodies found belonged to a young girl, who appeared to be about twelve years old, while other bodies had their hands tied behind their back, suggesting evidence of possible war crimes.

Other bodies had gunshot wounds and were buried in a chaotic way. They were prepared for transportation to Tripoli, where forensic scientists will examine and try to identify them.

Read more: Is Libya on the road to de facto partition

Arabi 21 said that it had contacted the Libyan health ministry to find out how many bodies that were discovered, but the ministry refused to provide that information, requiring permission first from the public prosecutor's office.

However, a forensic worker who appeared in a video uploaded by the "Volcano of Rage" media centre said that one of the four mass graves discovered contained between 10 and 12 bodies.

Libyan government forces have recently advanced against rogue General Haftar's troops, driving them out of most of western Libya. Tarhouna, which was previously a major Haftar stronghold, was captured on Friday, along with the city of Bani Walid.

Government forces are now fighting for control of Sirte, the hometown of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

During the offensive, they have discovered other mass graves and bodies of victims thrown down wells.

On Thursday, the "Volcano of Rage" media centre tweeted that a container full of burned bodies was found in Qasr bin Ghashir south of Tripoli, while on Saturday, BBC Arabic reported that 100 bodies were found by government forces at Tarhouna’s main hospital.

In April 2019, Haftar's forces, based in eastern Libya, began a failed assault on western Libya to capture the Libyan capital, Tripoli.

Libyan officials said that Haftar's 9th brigade militia executed dozens of people during the assault.

Haftar has received backing from the UAE, Egypt, and Russia, while the Libyan government has recently received critical support from Turkey, which has helped it gain the upper hand against Haftar’s forces.

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