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Mu`askar al Mahawil
Generic Name: Mu`askar
MILB 3242'44"N 04423'58"E

Muaskar al-Mahawil (ma-HAH-weel) [less frequently transliterated as Al Mahaweel], about halfway between Hilla and Baghdad and near Babylon, is the site of a major Iraqi military base.


The 37th Tactical Fighter Wing (provisional) Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team deployed to Iraq in support of United Nations Special Commission Inspection Team 13. They arrived in Baghdad, Iraq on 6 Set 91 to conduct inspections of Iraq's ballastic missile program. Inspections started 7 Sep 91 at Al Dujail where a large number of IRFNA tanks had been dumped. They noted 2 leakers and departed the area. The same day they went to Tikrit/Al Sahra Air Force Base where they saw no evidence of ballistic missile activity. On 8 Sep 91 they inspected the Khan Al Mahawil Military Barracks, where they discovered 4 SCUD missile transporters that had been welded back togther after they had been cut in half at another military base called Taji. The team cheif instructed the Iraqs that the transporters had to be redestroyed and they came back on 9 Sep 91 to reinspect them. On 10 Sep 91 to 13 Sep 91 they were not able to start any more inspections due to the fact that the Iraq's refused permission to use UN helicopoters. They departed Iraq 13 Sep 91.


On 14 December 2002 a group of six IAEA inspectors went to the Hittin State Company located 50 kilometers south of Baghdad, which belongs to the MIO. Inspectors sealed a warehouse at the company. Inspectors then returned to the Al-Quds State Company to inspect buildings there. The Foreign Ministry added that inspectors went to the Al-Mahawil warehouse to "ascertain the nature of some materials that are subject to monitoring." IAEA inspectors visited Al-Mahaweel on 15 January 2003, and verified the RDX inventory by weighing sampling. The RDX at Al-Mahaweel was not under seal but was subject to IAEA monitoring.

In late 2004 confusion about the quantities of missing explosives arose because Al Qaqaa two sites where RDX was stored. Only 3 tons were at Al Qaqaa proper, while 125 tons under Al Qaqaa administrative control were stored at Muaskar al Mahawil, about 50 kilometers away. About 10 tons already had been reported by Iraq as having been used for non-prohibited purposes between July 2002 and January 2003.

Al Mahawil
PPL 3239'39"N 04424'28"E
Mass Graves

The small town of al-Mahawil is slightly to the south-east of the military base.

The killers of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party showed up at the barley field at 9 AM, with backhoes and three buses filled with blindfolded men, women and children as young as one year old. The backhoes dug a trench. Fifty people were led to the edge of the hole and shot, one by one, in the head. The backhoes covered them with dirt, then dug another hole for the next group. At 5 PM, the killers went home. This went on without a break for 35 days in March and April of 1991, during the crackdown on the Shiite Muslim uprising that followed the first Gulf War.

When U.S. Marines arrived in the area in April 2003, the local people went to the field and exhumed what was left of their loved ones murdered by the former regime. Officials said the 3,000-plus bodies the mass grave contained are just the tip of the iceberg. In the Mahawil area alone, officials estimate that 15,000 Iraqis probably are buried. In all of Iraq, some officials estimate Saddam killed more than 350,000 Iraqis since he took power in 1979. Other estimates put the number at 500,000, and still others at 1.3 million.

A mass gravesite was discovered two kilometers south of Al Mahawil, near Al Hillah, in Babil province in May 2003. The local populace completed site excavation on May 18. Approximately 3,000 remains were recovered from the site. The total number of remains at the site was estimated to be between 10,000-15,000. The victims are believed to have been executed in 1991.

Two mass graves were discovered around 13 May 2003 near the village of al-Mahawil, where many of those arrested in 1991 had been detained. The first site, located in the clay pits behind an abandoned brick factory on the main Baghdad- al-Hilla highway, contained the bodies of some six hundred victims, according to local (municipal and religious) officials7. A second site, located just a few kilometers north in an open field in an agricultural area, contained the bodies of at least two thousand people, according to local officials.

Local leaders said that Dr. Rafid al-Husseini, in charge of digging for remains, had been planning this exhumation for some time and that they did not want soldiers to interfere with this or guard the site. Dr. Rafid's small team came in originally in search of their own family members, and eventually formed a volunteer team of 60 members to assist others in locating family members. He believed they have dug up the remains of approximately 3,000 Iraqis and identified approximately 1,500 of them. Dr. Rafid believed that there may be anywhere from 11,000 to 14,000 sets of remains in this site. To identify bodies, these volunteers relied on identification cards (which there were many of), uniforms, types of clothing, jewelry and any other possible identifying features. Once identified, names were called out over a megaphone to alert family members on site, and lists provided to the local press for publication. When the relatives would come to claim a set of remains, they signed a Death Certificate before removing them for reburial. Even in the midst of overwhelming grief, the Iraqis created a system for identification and reburial in the hopes of restoring some dignity to their loved ones, and in the hopes of moving on.

By September 2003 all that remained was a field filled with plastic bags of clothing and other personal effects.

Today, at this site, there are new graves for those individuals who were not properly identified. These are being guarded by a local guard force. Many people in this town of Mahawil wonder where the other 10,000- 12,000 bodies from their region missing from the 1991 uprising are buried.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 15:38:11 ZULU