The Iraqi government says a mass grave has been discovered south of Baghdad with the remains of 150 victims of a crackdown against Kurds under former dictator Saddam Hussein.

A memorial was held Wednesday in the Shiite holy city of Najaf as the remains were transferred to the Kurdish city of Irbil in the north.

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh says the victims are believed to have been killed execution-style and were from the Kalar area in the northern Kurdish province of Sulaimaniyah.

Hundreds of thousands of Kurds were killed or expelled from northern Iraq during the so-called Anfal campaign in the late 1980s.

Several other mass graves have been found previously containing victims of atrocities blamed on Saddam's regime.