Forensic teams in the newly liberated city of Tikrit have started exhuming bodies from mass graves believed to contain hundreds of soldiers killed by Islamic State militants last year.
Kamil Amin, from Iraq's Human Rights Ministry, said work started yesterday on eight locations inside Tikrit's complex of presidential palaces, where much of the killing is believed to have taken place.
He said at least 12 bodies were exhumed yesterday.
IS militants overran Saddam Hussein's hometown last June, capturing around 1,700 soldiers as they were trying to leave Camp Speicher, an air base previously used by US troops on the outskirts of Tikrit.
IS claimed to have killed the troops shortly afterwards and posted videos purported to show their mass killings.
Mr Amin added that DNA samples have already been taken from around 85% of the victims' families and tests will be undertaken shortly on the bodies.
Iraqi state TV showed number of masked men digging in an open area helped by bulldozers as family members stood nearby.
A number of yellow tags were put on the remains by forensic teams next to flowers and candles lit by weeping troops and relatives.