British forces said Saturday they found hundreds of boxes containing human remains in a warehouse near Zubayr. They appeared to be the remains of people who had died some time ago — not in the current fighting.
"We officially call on the International Committee of the Red Cross to carry out their responsibility and immediately take the bodies from the invading forces and hand them over to the Islamic Republic of Iran," the radio quoted Gen. Mirfeisal Baqerzadeh, the head of Iran's Committee for Searching for the Missing in Action, as saying.
Baqerzadeh, who said an estimated 100 bodies were discovered at a military hospital near Basra, appeared to be referring to the same discovery, though the details he gave differed somewhat.
Baqerzadeh said the bodies had been located during joint Iranian-Iraqi search missions in recent months near Basra, Zubayr and Faw but added that war and what he called the procrastination of the Iraqi government delayed their repatriation.
Iran and Iraq have exchanged thousands of prisoners and remains of dead soldiers since the 1980-88 war ended with a U.N.-brokered cease-fire. The eight-year war left about a million soldiers dead or wounded.
Soldiers' remains are sometimes discovered years after a conflict has ended. Researchers in Vietnam and Korea still occasionally find the remains of American servicemen killed in regional conflicts.