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Iraq Transition

Experts combing through mass grave in Iraq

Bombers kill 11 in Baghdad, Mosul

• Iraq's neighbors meet in Turkey
• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
• Interactive: Sectarian divide
Unrest, Conflicts and War
Acts of terror

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Forensic experts are investigating a mass grave thought to contain the remains of as many as 1,500 Kurds killed in the 1980s.

The grave, with 18 trenches, is in Samawa, 230 miles (370 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad, along the Euphrates River. Most of Iraq's Kurds live in the north of the country.

"We know they're Kurdish victims because of the clothing and artifacts that were found with the bodies," said Gregg Nivala, an attorney with the Department of Justice's Regime Crimes Liaison Office.

Nivala said more than 300 mass graves have been found in Iraq, but investigators have only been able to get to two. It is not clear how many bodies are in any of the other graves.

In the late 1980s, Saddam Hussein's government forcibly removed Kurds from their homes in the country's north in an attempt to resettle their communities with Arabs.

"We believe that more than half of the Iraqi population have someone who is missing in their family," Bakhtiar Amin, outgoing Iraqi Human Rights Minister and a Kurd. About 26 million people live in Iraq.

Investigators working at the grave since early April have recovered the remains of 113 people. With the exception of five, all are women and children.

About 15 percent of the bodies had identification cards.

It is thought that the trenches were dug by the Kurds, who were shot right at the edge of the trenches and buried in them.

The new government in Iraq is trying to build a criminal case against Saddam and 10 of his aides.

The Iraq Special Tribunal was established in late 2003 to bring charges against members of Saddam's regime for crimes against humanity, including war crimes in connection with Iraq's wars against Iran and Kuwait.

At a July 2004 hearing, seven preliminary charges were outlined in the former ruler's arrest warrant -- the killing of religious figures in 1974; gassing of Kurds in Halabja in 1988; killing the Kurdish Barzani clan in 1983; killing members of political parties in the last 30 years; the 1986-88 ''Anfal'' campaign of displacing Kurds; the suppression of the 1991 uprisings by Kurds and Shiites, and the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The charges were not formal.

No trial date has been set.

Six bombings kill 11

Bombings killed 11 people and wounded at least 37 others in Baghdad and Mosul on Saturday, officials said.

The strikes follow a bloody Friday of bombings, most of them in Baghdad, where 12 bombs went off in eight parts of the capital within a matter of hours, killing 23 Iraqi security troops and at least one civilian, authorities said.

Saturday's deadliest attack happened in Mosul, Iraq's third most populous city and a center of insurgent violence.

According to a U.S. military news release, a homemade bomb "hidden inside a shrine" killed two woman and a child at a marketplace.

Suicide bombers struck near a military convoy, killing two civilians and wounding three others. The attacks were also near a school, where five people were wounded, the military said.

In Baghdad, a bomber attacked a joint Iraqi-U.S. military convoy near a police station in eastern Baghdad, killing two civilians and wounding 16 others, emergency police said.

Later, a suicide car bomb exploded outside the headquarters of a Sunni political group in western Baghdad, emergency police said. The explosion killed two guards and wounded eight other people.

In the early evening, a car bomb killed two civilians and wounded five other people on a major highway in eastern Baghdad when it targeted and missed a U.S. military convoy, police said.

As the violence continued, leaders from nations bordering Iraq met in Istanbul to discuss border security and other issues. Iraq's neighbors are concerned that instability from the war could spill across borders and spur regional discord. (Full story)

Report clears soldiers in agent's shooting

No disciplinary action should be taken against U.S. soldiers who shot and killed an Italian intelligence agent while he was trying to spirit a former Italian hostage out of Iraq, a U.S. military report released Saturday determined.

The investigating officer "concluded that the vehicle approaching the checkpoint failed to reduce speed until fired upon," said a statement accompanying the report. "The soldiers manning the checkpoint acted in accordance with the rules of engagement."

The report said U.S. soldiers estimated the vehicle was traveling more than 50 mph, and said it did not slow after warning shots were fired.

On Friday, U.S. and Italian officials said investigators from both countries differed about the circumstances surrounding the March 4 shooting death of Nicola Calipari. (Full story)

The shooting strained relations between the United States and Italy, where the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq has never been popular with the public.

Giuliana Sgrena, a reporter for an Italian newspaper who had just been released by abductors, has said U.S. forces deliberately fired on the vehicle, driven by another Italian agent. Sgrena was wounded in the shoulder.

U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said Friday that no joint report would be issued.

Other developments

  • A U.S. soldier assigned to the Marines was killed Saturday by enemy small-arms fire in Khaladiya, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) east of Falluja. The number of U.S. troops who have died in the Iraq war stands at 1,582, according to the military.
  • Syria and Iraq have agreed to take steps to restore official ties, broken in the 1980s, Turkish officials said.
  • Also Saturday, the U.S. military announced the deaths of four U.S. soldiers who were killed by a roadside bomb Thursday near Tal Afar in northern Iraq. Two other soldiers were wounded in the attack.
  • CNN's Ryan Chilcote, Kevin Flower, Ayman Mohyeldin, Mohammed Tawfeeq and Alphonso Van Marsh contributed to this report.

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