“We could have thrown them into the water, but we love the river too much to pollute it,” said the local policeman, who lost his own brother in the violence.

“The people here as well as their animals drink from the Tigris.”

Local finally decided to dig a mass grave for the fighters — but they said they refused to honor them with Islamic rites.

“We buried them with bulldozers. Even in the ground they are still mired in their own filth,” said farmer Shalan al-Juburi.