An Attempt To Cover Civilians Fleeing The North West Front Of Mosul. Just The Way It Goes Sometimes

…a long term photojournalist embedded with the ERD – presents Ahmed with a taser. We all look on in horror. It’s a gift that goes down exceptionally well. With Ahmed. Not so much with Makeen. Though Makeen does go down, all the way to the ground.

Driving to Badush takes hours. It’s not really so far, the road is just very erratic and largely unpaved and you have to loop down all the way south of Hamam al-Alil and then come all the way back up past West Mosul. But that’s what you have to do if you want to cover the North West Front. Earlier we’d passed the Federal Police base that was attacked by ISIS a week or so previously, causing significant attrition of the line and a number of deaths. As darkness falls and we bump along through the dust, with little to indicate what’s dirt road and what’s not (not being large areas that could well contain IEDs), there’s a definite feeling in the un-armoured car that perhaps territory known to be rife with ISIS isn’t the best place to be bumping along in the dark with no weapons (not that most of us would know how to use a gun if we had one). Continue reading “An Attempt To Cover Civilians Fleeing The North West Front Of Mosul. Just The Way It Goes Sometimes”

Why Did ISIS Kill So Many Yezidis And What Is A Yezidi Anyway?

Did you ever wonder why the Yazidi people have been so persecuted by ISIS? Why were their women enslaved, raped and abused? Why were they systematically killed in their thousands in 2014? There is of course no justifiable why. But that sort of thing takes a lot of time, effort and resource investment, so why did ISIS think it was such a good idea? Continue reading “Why Did ISIS Kill So Many Yezidis And What Is A Yezidi Anyway?”

3000 Words And No Pictures About A Visa Run Between Iraq And Turkey…

Eventually we arrive at a room, on the door of which is written: Residency Office and in which sit two men, smoking – they take my little piece of paper and give it a jolly good stamping. Then they ask me how I am, in English. I delightedly reply that I am fantastic, but wondering whether this is in fact anything to do with the Turkish border or have I just applied for some sort of Iraqi residency? Unable or unwilling to shed any light on this matter, which they make clear is of no interest whatsoever to them, they peruse my (British) passport and offer me an almond.

Driving across the Nineveh Plain on the first sunny day in weeks. Emerald green everywhere, like drinking a colour. There’s still snow on the mountain tops fringing this huge expanse of low flat. Signs of conflict are everywhere. The road is broken sporadically by haphazardly strewn concrete crash barriers, pushed apart to let vehicles use the road now that this is no longer close to the fighting. Many are pockmarked, split and crumbling in parts. Now a handy perch for the smiling children sitting atop them, swinging their legs and hawking sodas and bottled water, their usage has morphed into something more benign. Continue reading “3000 Words And No Pictures About A Visa Run Between Iraq And Turkey…”

Stuff Around Town

…the place is like a sort of smoke infused town hall of gargantuan proportion, gridded with tables and chairs. Waiters trip nimbly around, distributing small bowls of almonds and ice, and the best baba ganoush I’ve ever had the fortune to stumble upon. There is a constant hum of Kurdish/Arabic/Journalist and the place is slightly prone to bouts of Bingo. All in all it’s bloody marvellous…

The weather so far has been mostly either gorgeous clear blue skies and sunshine, about 19/20 degrees, or it’s been pissing down. I have to put that bit in because I’m English and some stereotypes are hard to put down. Continue reading “Stuff Around Town”

Getting To Know Iraqi Kurdistan

Driving down the (fully paved, two lane) road between Erbil and Sulaymaniyah, 4 turkies and a rooster in the boot and Ed Sheeran on the sound system, the mountains growing in both height and craggyness the further we go and the rain getting harder and harder, it’s difficult to remember I’m in Iraq. Continue reading “Getting To Know Iraqi Kurdistan”

The King Of The Generators

I met The King Of The Generators yesterday. By accident. I was taking pictures of some jigsaw pieces scattered in the dust, when a very well dressed man, followed by his wife and child came and observed. They were destined to remain utterly bemused by why on earth anyone would take pictures of jigsaw pieces scattered in the dust, due to an almost impenetrable language barrier. Continue reading “The King Of The Generators”