2018 Photo Contest, General News, 1st prize

The Battle for Mosul


Ivor Prickett

The New York Times

16 September, 2017

Nadhira Aziz looks on after west Mosul had been retaken, as Iraqi Civil Defense workers excavate the remains of her sister and niece from her house in the Old City, where they were killed by an airstrike in June. She sat in her chair just meters from the site and refused to move, directing the driver of the excavator and shouting to men to retrieve items she spotted in the debris.

On 10 July 2017, after months of fighting, the Iraqi government declared the city of Mosul fully liberated from ISIS, although fierce fighting continued in pockets of the city. Mosul had fallen to ISIS three years earlier, and the battle to retake it had begun in October 2016.

In effect, the reconquering of Mosul comprised two parts: the battle for the eastern half of the city, and that for the west, across the Tigris River. East Mosul was recaptured by the end of January 2017, but the offensive on west Mosul, particularly the densely built-up Old City, proved more difficult. Large areas of the city were left in ruins, and huge numbers of civilians were caught in the crossfire as battle raged.

A United Nations report gives an absolute minimum of 4,194 civilian casualties during the conflict, with other sources putting the figure much higher. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights pointed to extensive use of civilians as human shields, with ISIS fighters attempting to use the presence of civilian hostages to make certain areas immune from military operations.

After months of being trapped in the last remaining ISIS-held areas of the city, the people in west Mosul were severely short of food and water. Those who chose to remain in the city rather than go to one of the many camps for displaced people, initially relied on aid in order to survive.

About the photographer

Ivor Prickett

Working exclusively for The New York Times, Ivor Prickett has spent months on the ground reporting in both words and pictures on the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.  ...

Technical information

Shutter Speed
Focal length
35.0 mm

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