MOSUL, Iraq, May 18 (Xinhua) -- A total of 763 bodies have been retrieved during the past three days, buried under debris of the devastated buildings in the western side of Mosul city, a civil defense police source said on Friday.
A team from the Iraqi civil defense police retrieved 200 decomposed corpses on the first day, 457 bodies on the second day, and 106 others on the third day, Lieutenant Colonel Rabie Ibrahim, head of the team, told Xinhua.
Most of the bodies were discovered near the bank of the Tigris River, which bisects the city of Mosul, some 400 km north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, Ibrahim said.
The bodies were badly decomposed for being left for about eight months since the last battles against Islamic State (IS) militants in the city, Ibrahim said.
The bodies were said to be IS militants, their family members or civilians who were prevented by IS militants from leaving their homes during the fierce battles and heavy bombardment of the city, he added.
The campaign to retrieve the bodies was ordered by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, also the commander-in-chief of Iraqi forces, who formed a committee from the civil defense and Nineveh's provincial police to clean up the devastated areas in the old city center of western side of Mosul, Ibrahim said.
In July 2017, Abadi formally declared that Mosul, the country's second largest city, was liberated from IS after nearly nine months of fierce fighting to dislodge the extremist militants from their last major stronghold in Iraq.
Large part of Iraq's northern province of Nineveh, including its capital Mosul, came under IS control since June 2014, when government forces abandoned their weapons and fled, enabling IS militants to take control of parts of Iraq's northern and western regions.