Underequipped and Unpaid, Mosul’s Civil Defenders Reunite the Dead With the Living
A month passed since Iraqi prime minister Haider Al Abadi declared victory in the battle to clear Islamic State from Mosul. A hesitant calm has descended over the city as neighborhoods that residents abandoned during the fighting are gradually repopulating. The task of Mosul’s liberators has shifted to reconstruction.... Read more
Is Blackwater Back in Iraq?
Members of Iraq’s parliament have some questions about security contractors arriving in Iraq. They’re worried that notorious mercenary firm Blackwater has, more or less, made its way back to Iraq. “So far, the government has not briefed us on the arrival of private security firms for securing the highway... Read more
Islamic State Is Digging Trenches and Preparing For Battle
Islamic State fighters have reportedly begun digging trenches in the Iraqi city of Tal Afar ahead of a planned offensive by Iraqi security forces. The Iraqi military is fresh from a hard-won battle for the city of Mosul, which both Iraqi troops and supporting U.S.-led coalition spent years trying... Read more
Here Are the Leaflets the United States Dropped on Islamic State
This story originally appeared on Jan. 22, 2016. On Nov. 15, 2015, U.S. Air Force A-10 ground-attack planes and AC-130 gunships blew up a truck park near Abu Kamal, Iraq. The American pilots destroyed more than 100 tankers carrying oil that could fund the Islamic State. The Pentagon followed this... Read more
An Independent Kurdistan Would Begin With a Clash
Iraqi Kurdistan’s upcoming independence referendum on Sept. 25, 2017 will determine, among other things, the borders of an emerging Kurdish state in that region. With this determination would likely come border conflicts for an independent state squeezed between several volatile flashpoints. Presently, the borders of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region are... Read more
Precision Warfare? Don’t Make Me Laugh
You remember. It was supposed to be 21st-century war, American-style — precise beyond imagining; smart bombs; drones capable of taking out a carefully identified and tracked human being just about anywhere on earth; special operations raids so pinpoint-accurate that they would represent a triumph of modern military science. Everything... Read more
We Watched Kurdish Soldiers Rip Apart IEDs
A Peshmerga fighter slowly worked his around the concrete shell of a half-constructed home in northern Iraq when something in the rubble alerted his attention. After flagging the spot and alerting the other soldiers with him, another Peshmerga fighter specialized in handling improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, arrived on... Read more
The Brutal, Exhausting Battle for Mosul, in Photos
A member of the Iraqi federal police enters a theater in Mosul on April 19, 2017. Seconds later, Islamic State fighters open fire from the other side of the theater. Kainoa Little photo A federal policemen walks between positions in a movie theater in Mosul on April 19, 2017.... Read more
Islamic State Hid Tank Cannons Inside Shipping Containers
Islamic State is using a curious trick to conceal its few remaining tanks, if these two truck containers are a sign. Deep within the containers, recently captured by Iraqi forces in Mosul, the militant group installed tank turrets and their cannons. A video posted to Twitter shows the contraptions, most likely built... Read more
‘We Have Had Three Years of Our Lives Destroyed’
Cars, trucks and the occasional motorbike trundle along a wide West Mosul highway in the scorching mid-June heat. Most vehicles here show the scars of battle, such as shrapnel holes and shattered windows owing to thousands of concussive blasts from mortars, bombs and IEDs. On a road in the Al... Read more

Matt Cetti-Roberts

Photojournalist, documentary photographer and correspondent in Iraqi-Kurdistan

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