Iraq has begun to unearth the remains of dozens of victims, including children, likely killed during ex-dictator Saddam Hussein's campaign against the country's Kurds, a forensics official has said.

The mass grave was uncovered in Tal al-Sheikhiya, about 300 kilometres south of Baghdad, said Zaid al-Youssef, the head of Baghdad's Medico-Legal Directorate which is tasked with identifying the remains.

"More than 70 bodies including women and children, ranging from newborns to 10 years old" have so far been found, Mr Youssef said.

Those remains were recovered from the surface layer of the site, he said, but "there could be a second deeper layer" with additional bodies.

"The evidence collected indicates they were summarily executed in 1988," said Mr Youssef, which coincides with Saddam Hussein's brutal "Anfal" campaign against Iraq's Kurds.

The operation took place between 1987 and 1988 and saw nearly 180,000 Kurds killed and more than 3,000 villages destroyed.

"The female victims were blindfolded and killed by gunshots to the head, but also have traces on various parts of their bodies of bullets that were fired randomly," Mr Youssef said.

The grave lies in the southern province of Mutahanna, also home to the notorious Nigrat Salman prison camp.

Many Kurds and political opponents of the previous regime were held there, and survivors shared tales of humiliation, rape and detention of minors as part of Saddam's 2006 trial.

Iraq has been hit by wave after wave of conflict in recent decades, culminating in the fight against the so- called Islamic State group which ended in late 2017.