Iraqi Kurds Stockpiled Captured Islamic State Explosives
In August 2017, two explosions rocked Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region. Bomb attacks in the Kurdish capital are a rarity. In both these instances officials in the region assured the city’s residents that the explosions resulted from unstable weaponry the Kurdish Peshmerga had captured from Islamic... 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
Foreign Advisers Are Turning Kurdish Soldiers Into Professionals
As the threat from Islamic State gradually recedes in Iraq, the United States, along with leading members of the multinational coalition it assembled to defeat the militants, has presented a draft of a long-term plan to reform and professionalize Iraqi Kurdistan’s Peshmerga military forces. Over the course of the... Read more
The Kurds Are Fighting Islamic State, So Why Isn’t America Helping Them?
Charred buildings are all that remain of the Christian homes seized by Islamic State when the militant group attacked Iraq’s plains of Nineveh two years ago. Now, the small town Assyrian town of Telskuf is a base for Kurdish Peshmerga forces who recaptured it in August 2014 and now... Read more
The Coalition Just Formed a Fighting Unit of 120 Kurdish Women
British and Dutch military advisers in Northern Iraq have wrapped up training for a class of female peshmerga fighters. The foreign instructors trained 120 Kurdish women in infantry tactics, first aid and counter-IED skills. This is the first time the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition has trained Kurdish women. These... Read more
Why Isn’t Israel Arming Iraq’s Kurds?
In a predictable world, Israel and Iraqi Kurdistan would be the closest allies. However, the Middle East is not predictable, and the Israelis have refrained from sending weapons to help the Kurds’ war with the Islamic State. What’s stopping them? Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes that an independent Kurdistan would be... Read more
Kurdish and Shia Fighters Face Off Over Iraqi Town
A new batch of Iraqi Shia militiamen have taken positions near the Kurdish controlled town of Jalawla in Northern Iraq. The Kurdish fighters inside the town are not excited about that. “We hope nothing will happen, but if they fire at peshmerga we will respond,” Gen. Mahmud Sangawi told... Read more
Iraq’s Largest Kurdish Faction Excludes Women From the Front Line
A mortar round exploded close to her position. She was hit on the head and on the left leg. It was the end of 2003, the enemy was Saddam Hussein and Chinor Sabir fought alongside dozens of other peshmerga women to liberate Iraqi Kurdistan from the regime’s troops. For... Read more
With Heavy Air Support, Kurdish Troops Go on the Offensive
This is the second part of a two-part series. Read part one. Before dawn, the peshmerga prepare for fighting. A group of soldiers gather below the outpost, pointing down with the lights on their mobile phones and cracking open Soviet-style ammunition boxes, distributing the bullets. Armed vehicles laiden with... Read more
To the Edge of Kurdistan
This is part one of a two-part series. Read part two. A cool night breeze drifts across the roof of the building, wafting away mosquitoes seeking their meals from any exposed skin. Illuminated by an almost full moon, Kurdish peshmerga fighters rest on mattresses or crude metal beds with cruelly... Read more

Matt Cetti-Roberts

Photojournalist, documentary photographer and correspondent in Iraqi-Kurdistan