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Jacob Russell July 8, 2015

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Iraq, Kurdistan.
Tags: ,

A Peshmerga soldier sleeps on the outskirts of the city of Kirkuk, Iraq 2014

Jacob Russell (b. 1984, United Kingdom) is a freelance photographer and journalist based in the Middle East. He works internationally focusing on the northern Iraqi Kurdish regionHis photographs have been published in the Guardian, the Times of London, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, USA Today and CNN, among others. His video work has appeared on NBC.com and Time.com and he has also published written work in  Al Jazeera English and Roads & Kingdoms. Jacob is also a regular contributor to Raw Music International covering stories that center on music around the world. He currently lives in Lebanon.

About the Photograph:

“In June last year I had been living in Iraqi Kurdistan for a year and a half when the Islamic State suddenly took Mosul and most of northern Iraq. While everyone who lived and worked in Iraq knew that the situation was coming to a boiling point, the speed and scope of IS’s advance was still shocking. The disputed areas of northern Iraq are claimed by both the Kurds and Baghdad, and when the Iraqi army collapsed and withdrew from these areas, the Kurdish Peshmerga rushed in gleefully. This photo was taken on a base outside Kirkuk, in the disputed areas, which had fallen into the Peshmerga’s hands a couple of weeks previously. A commander had come to the meet General Sherko, whose men occupied the base, and his escort took the opportunity to get half an hours sleep away from the merciless heat outside.”

“The year of conflict that has passed since then has changed the Peshmerga but at that point they were hardly a professional army. With little weaponry, training or fighting experience they were mostly young men with a lot of fighting spirit and not much else. Commander Sherko was killed some months later defending the same base from an Islamic State assault.”