SAFWAN, Iraq (Reuters) – Iraq handed over on Thursday the remains of 48 Kuwaiti citizens who disappeared during the 1991 Gulf War when dictator Saddam Hussein sent his troops into Kuwait and was forced out by a U.S.-led coalition.
The handing over of remains, which were put in caskets wrapped in Kuwaiti flags, is the first since the toppling of Saddam Hussein in a U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
Kuwait says around 605 people, mostly Kuwaiti, went missing during the seven-month occupation and ensuing war.
Iraqi military officials said the remains were found in a mass grave, in the desert about 170 km (106 miles) west of the city of Samawa in March.
Tests have been performed and results confirm the remains’ identity, said Iraqi military and health officials attending the ceremony.
“Iraq’s government is determined to keep searching for the remaining missing bodies of the Kuwaiti citizens and return them back to their families,” said army Major General Hazim Qasim.
Diplomatic ties between the two neighbors were cut after the invasion, which was ended by the 1991 Gulf War, but restored after Saddam’s removal from power in 2003.
Reporting by Aref Mohammed; Writing by Ahmed Rasheed; Editing by Stephen Powell