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Tikrit, Iraq (CNN)Mass graves believed to hold Iraqi soldiers have been discovered in newly liberated Tikrit.

Up to 1,700 bodies may be recovered. ISIS claimed to have executed that many soldiers captured in June outside Camp Speicher, a fortified Iraqi base near Tikrit.

CNN’s Arwa Damon saw nine bodies recovered by forensics experts at one of the excavation sites. Grieving Iraqis, apparently not related to the soldiers, gathered to pray over the bodies and pay their respects as the grisly excavation work proceeded.

Damon said there may be 10 mass graves inside the presidential palace complex, which contains the residences of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.download

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