The Impact of ISIS in Iraq

Iraq with its difficult history only recently began to recover from the destruction of the US invasion in 2003. Then, in 2014, ISIS descended on the country in order to build their own state through acts of terror. The group found its most recent leadership in Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and continued to fund its efforts mostly from stolen oil near Mosul, Iraq, as well as receiving donations from jihadists in mainly Syria and Saudi Arabia. Since its creation, ISIS has targeted anyone who does not adhere to their extremism. They have targeted any Muslim person who does not follow their teachings, as well as minority groups such as Christians and Yazidi people by submitting them to forced conversions, mass executions, torture and slavery. Entire Christian towns in Iraq were vacated, people fleeing to churches inside of Erbil, Iraq and then onto refugee camps. The United Nations has declared that ISIS committed a mass genocide on the Yazidi people with thousands being abducted in Iraq and taken to Syria, five thousand more Yazidi were murdered. With the move into Iraq, ISIS’s greatest conquest was its takeover of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city in the country. Iraqi forces supported by a US led military coalition, alongside Kurdish military groups, and smaller militia groups have fought to reclaim areas in Iraq controlled by ISIS. With most areas of Iraq liberated from ISIS control, the final stage to free Mosul from the grips of the terrorists began in October of 2016 and continues into the present. According to UNHCR, the Mosul battle alone has required more than 82,000 people to seek shelter in refugee camps.

Mosul, Iraq. The Great Mosque of Mosul, a Sunni mosque originally built by Saddam Hussein, though construction was never completed. The mosque was used as a training school for Islamic State militants, a storehouse for stolen items and one area was turned into a prison for Mosul residents who did not obey ISIS rules. It also served as a stage for filmed beheadings by the Islamic militants. The Great Mosque was liberated on January 18th, 2017.
A member of Iraq Special Forces show Abdul-Ghani al-Assadi commander of Iraq's anti-terrorism unit the recently liberated Great Mosque of Mosul, a Sunni mosque originally built by Saddam Hussein, though construction was never completed. The mosque was used as a training school for Islamic State militants, a storehouse for stolen items and one area was turned into a prison for Mosul residents who did not obey ISIS rules. It also served as a stage for filmed beheadings by the Islamic militants. The Great Mosque was liberated on January 18th, 2017.
A municipality worker from Qaraqosh, Iraq stands in the destroyed court yard of the Church of the Immaculate Conception. The Islamic State took control of Qaraqosh, Iraq in August of 2014. The town was home to Iraq's largest population of Christians. ISIS turned the church into a shooting range and training facility, where they also beheaded statues of Christian saints.
Qaraqosh, Iraq. Yussef Abdullah, 20, a member of the Assyrian Christian militia the Nineveh Plain Protection Unit (NPU) walks through a tunnel made by ISIS. The tunnel which served as a shelter from coalition airstrikes, as well as an escape route passes under the church of St. Barbara and leads to an open field.
Civilians pass over a collapsed bridge that ISIS bombed in the market place of the recently liberated neighborhood of Al Sukar in eastern Mosul.  ISIS has used drones with grenades to target busy areas where many civilians congregate. Though eastern Mosul is considered fully liberated by the Iraq Army, possible ISIS snipers, trip wires, and IEDs [improvised explosive devices] are still a threat to civilians. For more than two and half years Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city has been under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).  Since October of 2016, Iraq Special Forces along with other Iraqi militia groups began the battle to take back Mosul.
Civilians in the Al Hayy az Zarai neighborhood of eastern Mosul watch as Iraq Special Forces check for any IED’s in the road in the newly liberated area.  For more than two and half years, Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city has been under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).  Since October of 2016, Iraq Special Forces supported by the US have begun the battle to take back Mosul. The east bank of Mosul has been fully liberated by the Iraq military, but the west bank is still under ISIS control.
The Al-Sukar neighborhood of eastern Mosul, along with the rest of Mosul was heavily hit by coalition airstrikes.  For more than two and half years Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city has been under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).  Since October of 2016, Iraq Special Forces have been fighting to take back the city of Mosul from ISIS.  On January 24, 2017 the Prime Minister of Iraq declared the entire east side of Mosul had been fully liberated.  An offense to take back the west side has yet to begin.  According to the United Nations 750,000 civilians are living under Islamic State control.
A broken down ambulance in the Al-Sukar neighborhood of eastern Mosul.  For more than two and half years Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city has been under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).  Since October of 2016, Iraq Special Forces have been fighting to take back the city of Mosul from ISIS.  On January 24, 2017, the Prime Minister of Iraq declared the entire east side of Mosul had been fully liberated.  An offense to take back the west side has yet to begin.  According to the United Nations, 750,000 civilians are living under Islamic State control in western Mosul.   
A woman walks past a mosque destroyed by ISIS in the Al Sukar neighborhood of eastern Mosul, Iraq.  For more than two and half years Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city has been under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).  Since October of 2016, Iraq Special Forces supported by the US began implementing coalition airstrikes in the battle to take back Mosul. 
A child in the recently liberated neighborhood Al Sukar of eastern Mosul, stares at a the body of a dead ISIS fighter.  Residents of the neighborhood said he had been on top of a building when an airstrike occurred.  For more than two and half years Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city has been under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).  Since October of 2016, Iraq Special Forces with the support of the US began implementing coalition airstrikes in the battle to take back Mosul.
An Iraqi soldier cleans left over weapons of ISIS fighters he has found in areas of the Al Sukar neighborhood of eastern Mosul.  For more than two and half years Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city has been under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).  Since October of 2016, Iraq Special Forces with the support of militias in Iraq have been fighting the battle to take back Mosul.
The dead body of an Islamic State militant who is still wearing a suicide bombers vest lies on the floor of a former shopping center in the Al-Sukar neighborhood of eastern Mosul.  His friend blew himself up in a suicide attack, which killed the boy and also destroyed the shopping area. Though eastern Mosul is considered fully liberated by the Iraq Army, possible ISIS snipers, trip wires, and IEDs [improvised explosive devices] are still a threat to civilians. For more than two and half years Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city has been under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil). Since October of 2016, Iraq Special Forces with the support of militias in Iraq have been fighting the battle to take back Mosul.
The dead body of an Islamic state fighter lies on the open street in the Al-Sukar neighborhood of eastern Mosul.  Residents of the neighborhood said he had been on top of a building when an airstrike occurred.  at the market in the recently liberated neighborhood of Al Sukar in eastern Mosul.   Though the Prime Minister of Iraq announced on January, 24, 2017 that eastern Mosul is fully liberated, possible ISIS snipers, trip wires, and IEDs [improvised explosive devices] are still a threat to civilians. For more than two and half years Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city has been under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).  Since October of 2016, Iraq Special Forces and militia groups inside of Iraq have begun the battle to take back Mosul.
Mosul, Iraq.  An Iraq soldier displays some of the weapons he found while patrolling the recently liberated neighborhood of Al Sukar in eastern Mosul.  Though eastern Mosul is considered fully liberated by the Iraq Army, and weapons facilities have been found with weapons confiscated, possible ISIS snipers, trip wires, and IEDs [improvised explosive devices] are still a threat to civilians. For more than two and half years Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city has been under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).  Since October of 2016, Iraq Special Forces have begun the battle to take back Mosul. An offense to take back the west side has yet to begin.  According to the United Nations, 750,000 civilians are trapped and living under Islamic State control in western Mosul.
A member of the Iraq Army checks civilian ID’s at a road block in the recently liberated neighborhood of Al Sukar in eastern Mosul. Those coming and going from liberated areas of the city must do so by 6pm, due to government rules, because terrorist threats are still a reality. ISIS has used drones with grenades to target busy areas where many civilians congregate. Though eastern Mosul is considered fully liberated by the Iraq Army, possible ISIS snipers, trip wires, and IEDs [improvised explosive devices] are still a threat to civilians. For more than two and half years Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city has been under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).  Since October of 2016, Iraq Special Forces along with militia groups inside of Iraq began the battle to take back Mosul.
Men rest by a fire at the market in the recently liberated neighborhood of Al Sukar in eastern Mosul.  ISIS has used drones with grenades to target busy areas where many civilians congregate. Though eastern Mosul is considered fully liberated by the Iraq Army, possible ISIS snipers, trip wires, and IEDs [improvised explosive devices] are still a threat to civilians. For more than two and half years Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city has been under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil). Since October of 2016, Iraq Special Forces along with militia groups inside of Iraq have been fighting the battle to take liberate Mosul.
A humvee circumvents an IED blocking the road in the Hayy Al Zarai neighborhood of eastern Mosul.  Though eastern Mosul is considered fully liberated by the Iraq Army, and weapons facilities have been found with weapons being confiscated, possible ISIS snipers, trip wires, and IEDs [improvised explosive devices] are still a threat to civilians.  For more than two and half years Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city has been under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).  Since October of 2016, Iraq Special Forces have begun the battle to take back Mosul. An offense to take back the west side has yet to begin.  According to the United Nations, 750,000 civilians are trapped and living under Islamic State control in western Mosul.
Iraq Special Forces descend on the campus of a liberated Mosul University, before taking down the ISIS sign. ISIS took control of Mosul University two and a half years ago, turning it into a facility that could benefit their interests. The science laboratories were used as a facility for making weapons. Iraq government forces supported by US led coalition air strikes destroyed most of Mosul University, while ISIS is believed to have started fire to the campus.
A homemade car constructed by ISIS to carry out a suicide attack blocks a road in the Al Hayy az Zarai neighborhood of eastern Mosul. According to conflict researchers ISIS has used more suicide bombers in Mosul than any other conflict in history.  For more than two and half years, Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city has been under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).  Since October of 2016, Iraq Special Forces supported by the US have begun the battle to take back Mosul. The east bank of Mosul has been fully liberated by the Iraq military, but the west bank is still under ISIS control.
After two and half years under Islamic State control civilians from Mosul, Iraq cross a bridge in front of Mosul University, which was closed by ISIS, until Iraq Special Forces liberated the area.  ISIS took control of Mosul University two and a half years ago, turning it into a facility that could benefit their interests. The science laboratories were used as a facility for making weapons. Iraq forces supported by US-led coalition air strikes destroyed most of Mosul University, while ISIS is believed to have started a fire to some of the buildings.
Members of the Iraq Special Forces embark on an operation in the “forest," an area east of the Tigris river in Mosul. The Prime Minister of Iraq declared on January 24th, 2017 that eastern Mosul was liberated from Islamic State control after three months of fighting. Since October of 2016, Iraq Special Forces along with militia groups inside of Iraq have been fighting the battle to take liberate Mosul, but the area west of the Tigris river is still under Islamic State control. 
New arrivals from Mosul wait at the medical center services in Khazer refugee camp. According to UNHCR, over 150,000 people remain displaced due to the Mosul conflict. For more than two and half years Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city has been under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).  Since October of 2016, Iraq Special Forces along with militia groups inside of Iraq have begun the battle to take back Mosul.
Families from Al-Rashidiya in northern Mosul are greeted by fellow refugees as they pass through the checkpoint at Khazer refugee camp.  Though the Iraq Special Forces had declared eastern Mosul fully liberated, the families had to leave their neighborhood after ISIS retaliated by shelling the area a day and half after it was liberated. According to UNHCR over 150,000 people remain displaced due to the Mosul conflict. For more than two and half years Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city has been under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).  Since October of 2016, Iraq Special Forces along with militia groups inside of Iraq have begun the battle to take back Mosul.
A young girl from Al-Rashidiya in northern Mosul waits for the rest of her family to pass through the checkpoint at Khazer refugee camp.  Though the Iraq Special Forces had declared eastern Mosul fully liberated, the families had to leave their neighborhood after ISIS retaliated by shelling the area a day and half after it was liberated.  According to UNHCR, over 150,000 people remain displaced due to the Mosul conflict.  For more than two and half years Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city has been under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).  Since October of 2016, Iraq Special Forces along with militia groups inside of Iraq have been fighting the battle to take liberate Mosul.
Christian children from Qaraqosh, Iraq at their caravan home inside of the Ankawa refugee camp in Erbil, Iraq.   The Islamic State took control of Qaraqosh, Iraq in August of 2014. The town was home to Iraq's largest population of Christians. ISIS turned  churches into training facilities, where they also beheaded statues of Christian saints.  Some residents from Qaraqosh who were not able to flee once ISIS arrived were subjected to either torture or abduction. 
Narin, 37, a Yazidi woman from Sinjar, Iraq with her children in Sharia refugee camp in Dohok, Iraq.  Her entire family was abducted by ISIS and taken to Syria.  She was able to find a gun and escape her captors with her children, but her husband was left behind.  She presumes he is dead.  She said her family was approved for refugee resettlement in the US state of North Dakota, where a large Yazidi refugee community resides.  According to the United Nations (UN), more than 5000 Yazidi people were murdered in a mass genocide committed by the Islamic State.   (Name has been changed upon request).
L, 33, a Yazidi woman from Sinjar, Iraq who now stays in Sharia refugee camp in Dohok provence was abducted by ISIS in 2014 and taken to Raqqa, Syria where she was sold on the market and held as a sex slave for ISIS fighters.  She was also  subjected to forced labor for nearly two and half years and now has back problems. Her brother, the only member of her family who was not abducted was able to buy her back from ISIS in November of 2016 for USD $13,000.  The rest of her family is still being held by ISIS in Syria. (Name withheld upon request).
Nahla, 20, from Sinjar, Iraq was bought and sold at least 9 times at a market in Raqqa, Syria.  She was held captive for one year and four months, until her family was able to buy her back.  She said she was continually raped by different men and at one point she was ganged raped by four ISIS fighters.  The United Nations (UN) has declared that the Islamic State of Iraq committed mass genocide on the Yazidi people.  According to the UN more than 5000 Yazidi lost their lives during the genocide. (Name has been changed upon request).
Tiba Wad, 10, and Sabrine Namat, 9, originally of Mosul, Iraq stand on a hill that overlooks a football field in Khazir refugee camp. Children come to the hill to watch their friends play football, something that was outlawed by ISIS after they overtook the city of Mosul in 2014. Playing football, creating art, or attending to any hobbies was considered "haram," meaning that which is forbidden by Islamic law. In October of 2016, the Iraq Army began an offensive to take back the city of Mosul.
Muhammad, 10, originally of Mosul, Iraq leaves an area of land used as a football field at Khazer refugee camp.  Those who lived under ISIS control in Mosul were not allowed to play football, create art, or attend to any hobbies as this is considered “haram,” meaning that which is forbidden by Islamic law.  In October of 2016, Iraq government forces along with militias inside of Iraq began an offensive to take back the city of Mosul. 
A family inside of Khazer refugee camp packs their belongings so to return to their home in eastern Mosul.  The Prime Minister of Iraq declared eastern Mosul fully liberated on January 24, 2017, but suicide and drone attacks, as well as IED’s being planted around the city make it continually dangerous. According to UNHCR more than 46,000 people have returned to their homes in eastern Mosul. For more than two and half years Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city has been under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil). Since October of 2016, Iraq Special Forces along with militia groups inside of Iraq have been fighting the battle to take liberate Mosul, with the western part of the city still under Islamic State control.