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After 20 Years, Families of Genocide Victims Bury Their Dead

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) -- The bodies of 730 victims of Saddam Hussein’s military campaign against Kurdistan, their coffins draped in the Kurdish flag, returned home to Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, on Monday and were finally laid to rest.

Their remains were discovered last year in the desert in southern Iraq, and subsequently identified as Kurds massacred in 1988 by the former regime.  It’s believed they were either buried alive or executed with a bullet to the head, before their bodies were transported south of Baghdad in an effort to conceal the crime.

The coffins were laid out at a ceremony in Sulaymaniyah attended by grieving families and local political leaders.  The dead will be buried in Chamchamal, where a monument has been erected in the memory of those who perished in the genocide.  It’s estimated that more than 180,000 Kurds were killed and thousands displaced during what became known as the Anfal campaign.

The central government in Baghdad did not send any high-level representatives, but in a symbolic move, the Iraqi national anthem was played at Monday’s ceremony.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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