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World’s Largest Cemetery Grows Bigger in Najaf | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The Wadi al-Salam cemetery, Arabic for “Peace Valley”, is seen in Najaf, south of Baghdad, Iraq August 3, 2016. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani

Najaf-The world’s largest cemetery, in Iraq’s city of Najaf, is expanding at double its usual rate as the nation’s death rate increased with the war on ISIS.

The death rate has increased within the ranks of the Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq’s war against ISIS.

The pace of daily burials at the Wadi al-Salam cemetery, Arabic for Peace Valley, rose to 150-200 after ISIS overran a third of the country in 2014, said Jihad Abu Saybi, a historian of the cemetery. The rate was 80-120 a day previously, he said, according to Reuters.

As land becomes scarce, the cost of a standard 25 square meter family burial lot has risen to about 5 million Iraqi dinars ($4100) almost double the amount paid for the same lots before violence escalated as ISIS exerted control over large swathes of north and western Iraq in 2014.

Millions of graves of different shapes lie in the roughly 10 square km cemetery that attracts burials from Shi’ites all over the world. By nationality, Iraq’s Iranian neighbors are thought to come second in number people interred near Ali’s golden-domed shrine.

Often built with baked bricks and plaster, decorated with Koranic calligraphy, some graves are above ground tombs, reflecting the wealth of those within.