2016-10-14 16:20:25

are near-medieval, with no electricity and limited running water and sanitation. US-backed Kurdish fighters reclaimed the town in November 2015, but destruction and ongoing fighting in the area prevent most people from returning.Seen through the broken window of a house destroyed in fighting with Isis hours earlier, Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers on the front line near Mosul. The villages along the Nineveh plains by the Khazir river lie 70km east of Mosul, making for a strategic stronghold that is still hotly contested by Isis and Peshmerga soldiers.Families flee villages surrounding Mosul. Their homes are in ruins, bombed out by coalition airstrikes and months of frontline fire. They escaped in the dead of night, with only their children and precious essentials – some clothes, water, and photographs.In a raid near Makhmur, close to the front line, Iraqi police detain and interrogate suspected Isis supporters who claimed to be refugees. The area, north of Kirkuk, which is composed of both Kurds and ethnic Arabs, has been controlled by Kurdish forces since 2014.

A makeshift barber's stall by the water dispensers in the Debaga refugee camp. Despite the camp being overcrowded and under-resourced, many attempt to maintain some semblance of everyday routine – of work, community and trade.

Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers unleash heavy tank fire on Isis fighters lurking in the remains of a recently liberated town near the Khazir river.Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers watch an offensive on Isis militants spotted in contested territories surrounding Mosul

Honer, a 22-year-old Kurdish fighter, holds the front line against Isis outside Sinjar. The town, close to the Syrian border, was the site of a brutal massacre of the Yazidi population by Isis in August 2014. Kurdish forces backed by US airporwer retook the town in November 2015, though shelling by Isis is heard daily, ringing out across the destroyed city.An Iraqi boy waits with his family inside a Peshmerga base near Irbil. Having walked through the night to avoid being seen by Isis, he will now be sent to the overcrowded Debaga refugee camp.Mohamed, a Peshmerga soldier, goes back to a makeshift base behind the Makhmur front lines after hours of fighting against Isis.A destroyed home near the Gwer front line which became a battleground between Isis and Peshmerga forces during a six-hour offensive to liberate the town.

Kurdish Yazidi women from the Sun Force battalion train in Snuny, near the Syrian border. Two years ago, many of these women were abducted by Isis and kept as sex-slaves during the systematic massacre Isis perpetrated against the Yazidi people. On their escape they enlisted within the Peshmerga's growing minority of female forces, preparing to fight Isis in the forthcoming battle for Mosul.

A bustling local cafe in the town of Shaqlawa, 50km north of Irbil. Despite Iraq's fledgling economy and the constant shadow of war against Isis – with front lines less than an hour's drive away – people continue to show extraordinary resilience.Beneath Irbil's main bazaar, Bakhtiar Aziz runs his family’s gun shop. Before the fighting with Isis, he and his son mainly fixed hunting guns. Now he repairs weapons for Peshmerga fighters free of charge.Lake Dukan, a large reservoir north of Slemani, is a hugely popular recreation spot for Kurds and Arabs. Every weekend when the weather is warm, the lake and the region around it are filled with picnicking families dressed in traditional clothing, as well as tour groups, and students, some of whom spend hours driving along bad roads to reach it.

An elderly escapee from Mosul carries her grandson through the Debaga refugee camp. In the background the queue for female registration winds for several kilometres. Registration can take over a week to complete, in several stages. Iraq is struggling to support more than 3.3 million internally displaced people.Refugees trace paths between segregated neighbourhoodsA family from Mosul with six young children sets up residence under the shade of a broken down aid vehicleA Yazidi woman, here with her two nephews, says she was forced to marry an Isis fighter before escaping to a refugee camp in Iraqi Kurdistan. She found her way to freedom by climbing a towering wall on the outside of her home.The sun sets on an overcrowded and under-resourced Debaga camp.

On balmy summer evenings, families gather by the Massif Salahaddin hills near Primam, north of Irbil, for roadside picnics.

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