Natalie CastañedaComment

Faces in Iraq's fight for Mosul

Natalie CastañedaComment
Faces in Iraq's fight for Mosul

The operation to drive the Islamic State group out of Mosul has brought together an eclectic mix of Iraqis — young and old, police and soldiers, and a variety of irregular uniforms and equipment.

Often the forces look rag-tag, sometimes professional. But many chose looks that are highly original for the fight, not expected to end anytime soon.

Not all soldiers wear uniforms, or markings, insignia or even body armor. One Iraqi army soldier wore only a T-shirt and a black-and-white scarf, proudly displaying his Soviet-designed PK machine gun. At a checkpoint in Gwer, 30 kilometers (19 miles) southeast of Mosul, a Kurdish peshmerga fighter wrapped his rifle in the colors of the Kurdish flag.

Iraqi police and intelligence have also joined the fray. One such recruit, just 19 years old, wore a green medical mask while working as guard for national security forces.

A month into the offensive, dozens of troops and civilians have lost their lives, and thousands of residents have fled. Iraqi forces have a foothold in eastern Mosul and are advancing slowly, fighting house to house. But with IS fighting from within densely populated neighborhoods, the battle for the city is far from over.

Here is a selection of portraits by AP photographer Marko Drobnjakovic of fighters taking part in the battle for Mosul.


In this photo taken Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016, an Iraqi army soldier poses for a portrait in the village of Al-Hut, some 40 kilometers south of Mosul, Iraq. The push to kick the Islamic State out of Mosul has brought together an eclectic mix of Iraqis, young and old, police and soldiers, and a variety of irregular uniforms and equipment. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)

 

In this photo taken Friday, Oct. 21, 2016, Raad Muqdam al-Mosieh, 35, from Baghdad, Iraq, an Iraqi army soldier, poses for a portrait as he guards a checkpoint while wearing a gas mask on the outskirts of Qayara, some 50 kilometers south of Mosul, Iraq. The push to kick the Islamic State out of Mosul has brought together an eclectic mix of Iraqis, young and old, police and soldiers, and a variety of irregular uniforms and equipment. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)

 

In this photo taken Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016, Riyad Jaffar, 27, from Baghdad, an Iraqi army sniper, poses for a portrait at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Qayara, some 50 kilometers south of Mosul, Iraq. The push to kick the Islamic State out of Mosul has brought together an eclectic mix of Iraqis, young and old, police and soldiers, and a variety of irregular uniforms and equipment. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)

 

In this photo taken Monday, Oct. 24, 2016, Hiwa Omar, 25, from Irbil, Iraq, a Kurdish Peshmerga soldier, poses for a portrait while guarding a checkpoint in Gwer, some 30 kilometers southeast of Mosul, Iraq. The push to kick the Islamic State out of Mosul has brought together an eclectic mix of Iraqis, young and old, police and soldiers, and a variety of irregular uniforms and equipment. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)

 

In this photo taken Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016,  Abdelyusef, no last name given, an Iraqi Federal Police officer, poses for a portrait at a checkpoint in the village of Al Hut, some 40 kilometers south of Mosul, Iraq. The push to kick the Islamic State out of Mosul has brought together an eclectic mix of Iraqis, young and old, police and soldiers, and a variety of irregular uniforms and equipment. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)

 

In this photo taken Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016, Alaa Hashid, from Shura, Iraq, an Iraqi army soldier, poses for a portrait at a checkpoint in Qayara, some 50 kilometers south of Mosul, Iraq. The push to kick the Islamic State out of Mosul has brought together an eclectic mix of Iraqis, young and old, police and soldiers, and a variety of irregular uniforms and equipment. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)

 

In this photo taken Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, Haidar Hussein, 20, from Diwaniya, Iraq, an Iraqi army soldier, poses for a portrait while holding his machine gun on the outskirts of Qayara, some 50 kilometers south of Mosul, Iraq. The push to kick the Islamic State out of Mosul has brought together an eclectic mix of Iraqis, young and old, police and soldiers, and a variety of irregular uniforms and equipment. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)

 

In this photo taken Friday, Oct. 28, 2016, US Air Force Senior Airman Dennis Marshall, 26, from Memphis, Tenn., poses for a portrait while holding his radio at the Qayara West Coalition base in Qayara, some 50 kilometers south of Mosul, Iraq. The push to kick the Islamic State out of Mosul has brought together an eclectic mix of Iraqis, young and old, police and soldiers, and a variety of irregular uniforms and equipment. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)

 

In this photo taken Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016, a Kurdish Peshmerga soldier, no name given, poses for a portrait in Nawaran, some 20 kilometers northeast of Mosul, Iraq. The push to kick the Islamic State out of Mosul has brought together an eclectic mix of Iraqis, young and old, police and soldiers, and a variety of irregular uniforms and equipment. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)

 

In this photo taken Friday, Oct. 28, 2016, Loay Mahdi, from Kirkuk, an Iraqi army soldier, poses for a portrait at the Qayara West Coalition base in Qayara, some 50 kilometers south of Mosul, Iraq. The push to kick the Islamic State out of Mosul has brought together an eclectic mix of Iraqis, young and old, police and soldiers, and a variety of irregular uniforms and equipment. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)

 

In this photo taken Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016, Abdelhakim Hamid, 19, from Qayara, Iraq, an Iraqi National Security armed guard, poses for a portrait in Qayara, some 50 kilometers south of Mosul, Iraq. The push to kick the Islamic State out of Mosul has brought together an eclectic mix of Iraqis, young and old, police and soldiers, and a variety of irregular uniforms and equipment. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)

 

In this photo taken Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016, Bergam Kadhim, from Najaf, Iraq, an Iraqi Special Forces soldier, poses for a portrait on a street in Gogjali, an eastern suburb of Mosul, Iraq. The push to kick the Islamic State out of Mosul has brought together an eclectic mix of Iraqis, young and old, police and soldiers, and a variety of irregular uniforms and equipment. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)


Text from the AP news story, AP PHOTOS: Faces In Iraq's Fight For Mosul, by Marko Drobnjakovic.

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