Gallery: One week into the Battle for Mosul

Gallery: One week into the Battle for Mosul
4 min read
26 Oct, 2016
Italian photojournalist Arianna Pagani brings us these pictures from the frontlines of the fight to rout the Islamic State group from Iraq's second-largest city.
The battle for Mosul will not be easy [Arianna Pagani]

The road leading to the front line is dotted with checkpoints. To cross them, you just need the right number to call. With the authorisation given and the barrier passed, the tarmac road peters out to a gravel path that climbs up into the mountains.

A few kilometres along the dirt road and you can glimpse Mosul in the distance. The sky is clear as Peshmerga forces prepare to retake control of Bashiqa, a town 15 miles northeast of Mosul.

Once inhabited by thousands of Yazidis, Shabaak and Christians, most of its residents fled when the Islamic State (IS) overran the city in June 2014 as they took over large swaths of the country from neighbouring Syria.

On Monday October 17, as the first light of dawn touched the sky, an Iraqi Army and Peshmerga-led offensive to retake Mosul began. Bashiqa is one of the most complicated and sensitive front lines.

Over a week into the battle for Mosul, the future of the city might still be uncertain after IS. Much will depend on who will be in involved in the final battle and also how civilians fare in the conflict and its aftermath.

On the front line of Bashiqa there are members of the Peshmerga from two rival Kurdish paries, in addition to Turkish, American and other foreign troops [Arianna Pagani]
Peshmerga forces on the Bashiqa front line [Arianna Pagani]
Peshmerga forces identify Islamic State targets on the Bashiqa front [Arianna Pagani]
Peshmerga forces at the Khazir front line, 25km from the city of Mosul [Arianna Pagani]

Bashiqa and Mosul are barely visible after IS set fire to several oil wells, filling the sky with smoke [Arianna Pagani]

The Gwer front line, south of Mosul is controlled by Iraqi forces. The nearby villages still contain large pockets of IS resistance [Arianna Pagani]

Inside the Golden Division’s military base in Khazir, where a total of 2000 Iraqi special forces are leading the advance on Mosul [Arianna Pagani]

Iraqi forces discover tunnels in a Christian monastery in Qaramless used by IS to hide from airstrikes [Arianna Pagani]

Lieutenant General Talib Shaghati, Commander of Joint Operation Command sits inside a military base on the Khazir front [Arianna Pagani]

Iraqi soldiers inside the military base on the Khazir front [Arianna Pagani]

Peshmerga forces on the Bashiqa front line [Arianna Pagani]

Pitched battles between Peshmerga forces and IS militants in Bashiqa [Arianna Pagani]

Peshmerga forces look at the town of Bashiqa below [Arianna Pagai]

Qaraqosh also called Baghdeda is an Assyrian town in northern Iraq within Nineveh Governorate, which was recently retaken by Iraqi forces [Arianna Pagani]

Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Qaraqosh is the second largest church in the region. It was completely destroyed and burned by IS members [Arianna Pagani]
The Saint Barbara monastery in Qaramless was used as a hideout by IS fighters who dug tunnels [Arianna Pagani]
Father Paolo Thabit speaks about the damage to the Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Qaraqosh [Arianna Pagani]

The Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Qaraqosh was left in ruin [Arianna Pagani]

On the way to Qaramless with the Iraqi army [Arinna Pagani]

On the way to the Khazir front, villages bare the marks of battle. Cleanup operations have not resumed, which means residents cannot return [Arianna Pagani]

On the way to Qaramless with the Iraqi army [Arianna Pagani]

An IS military arsenal found inside Qaraqosh [Arianna Pagani]

An Iraqi soldier rests inside his military vehicle in Qaraqosh [Arianna Pagani]

Iraqi military vehicles entering the Assyrian town of Qaraqosh [Arianna Pagani]
Most houses in Qaraqosh are destroyed by the heavy fighting between Iraqi forces and IS militants [Arianna Pagani]
An Iraqi military vehicle donning a Shia flag [Arianna Pagani] 

Iraqi soldiers advancing to a new front near Qaramless while raising Shia flags [Arianna Pagani]

An Iraqi soldier stands on the edge of the recently liberated town of Qaramless [Arianna Pagani]

Follow photojournalist Arianna Pagani on Twitter: @Arianna_Pagani_