IRAQ. Nineveh governorate. Mosul. March 3, 2017. An Iraqi Special Forces soldier some moments after shooting dead a suspected suicide bomber, during the offensive to retake the city.

The battle to reclaim Mosul from ISIS began in October 2016 and lasted until July 2017, with fighting against pockets of ISIS militants continuing in some quarters of the city even beyond that date. The use of suicide bombers was a common tactic by the militants.

Spot News, third prize singles at the 2018 World Press Photo Contest.

Photograph: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

Hammoudi laughs and gurgles as a cooing caregiver picks him up from a crib. It’s clear from the attention he is getting that he’s the darling of the orphanage.

The 7-month-old baby is dressed in a white jumpsuit. One sleeve hangs empty where he is missing an arm.

Sukaina Ali Younis, the founder of this Mosul, Iraq, orphanage, describes what happened to him as one of the “biggest crimes of ISIS.”

“ISIS left him on the ground as bait to lure Iraqi soldiers,” she says. “Three soldiers went to rescue the child and a sniper shot and killed them all.”

The Iraqi army sent in a tank, but before it could get to the baby, a dog ran up and dragged him away by the arm. When they rescued the baby boy, his arm had to be amputated.

The orphanage in a residential neighborhood in Mosul currently holds 18 children under the age of 6. Wooden cribs are lined end to end along bare walls in one of the rooms. A bassinet with white netting holds a baby only a few weeks old. He was left in the street near a police station in Mosul and brought by security forces to the orphanage.

There are some children whose entire families were killed in the war against the self-declared Islamic State — many buried in the rubble of crowded west Mosul when houses collapsed in bombings, airstrikes or mortar attacks.

Kidnapped, Abandoned Children Turn Up At Mosul Orphanage As ISIS Battle Ends

Photo: Jane Arraf/NPR
First Palm Sunday since IS in Iraq's main Christian town

Members of Iraq’s Christian minority celebrated Palm Sunday in the country’s main Christian town of Qaraqosh for the first time since it was retaken from the Islamic State group.

Hundreds of faithful gathered inside the town’s burnt out Immaculate Conception church for mass before starting the traditional Palm Sunday march, a procession during which palms are carried to commemorate Jesus’s entry to Jerusalem.

Thank God, we are returning to our towns and churches after two years,” Abu Naimat Anay, an Iraqi priest, said inside the church, which is Iraq’s biggest and where jihadist inscriptions were still visible on the walls.

Qaraqosh, with an overwhelmingly Christian population of around 50,000 before the jihadists took over the area in August 2014, was the largest Christian town in Iraq.

It was retaken by Iraqi forces late last year as part of a massive offensive to wrest back the nearby city of Mosul from IS but it remains almost completely deserted.

The archbishop of Mosul, Yohanna Petros Mouche, moved back to the town last week but it needs to be extensively rebuilt and basic services restored before displaced Christians can return en masse.

…Many of the more than 120,000 Christians believed to have fled their homes when IS swept across the region less than three years ago moved in with relatives or into camps in the nearby autonomous region of Kurdistan.

The celebration in Qaraqosh already had a sombre mood when news broke among the faithful that IS had attacked two churches in Egypt, killing at least 38 people.

The Christians are persecuted, but no matter how much they target us, our belief in God is great and we will stay here because we are not outsiders, we are the owners of the land,” the archbishop told AFP.

In a sea of loss, Bashar Abdul Jabar is just one among many.

The small man in a shirt several sizes too big is standing in the parking lot of the Iraqi civil defense forces base in Mosul, hoping to retrieve the body of his son. To his right is a young man whose entire family — 11 people — was killed. To his left, a man who lost 18 relatives.

Nearby, a 4-year-old boy who lost his mother and three brothers clings silently to his father’s leg.

Abdul Jabar, a father of five, lost his son Ahmed. He was 15. When their house collapsed around them during fighting in June between Iraqi troops and ISIS, Ahmed was trapped. The rest of the family members were able to extricate themselves. Abdul Jabar couldn’t save Ahmed and had to leave him behind, while he was still alive under the rubble.

He and the other men gathered a few weeks ago at Mosul’s civil defense forces base to try to recover the bodies of relatives killed during the battle for Mosul, which ended with the city’s recapture from ISIS in July.

‘He Died Alone’: A Grieving Father Searches For His Teenage Son In Mosul

Photo: Jane Arraf/NPR

IRAQ. Nineveh governorate. Mosul. November 13, 2016. An Iraqi special forces fighter walks with his rifle during fighting with Islamic State militants in eastern Mosul. Iraqi forces battled waves of suicide car bombs as they attempt to advance deeper into eastern Mosul, defended by militants from the so-called Islamic State group. 

Photograph: Felipe Dana/AP

Turkey Exits the War

The Armistice of Mudros is announced in British-occupied Baghdad on October 31.

October 30 1918, Mudros–With Bulgaria’s collapse opening the way to Constantinople, the new Ottoman government quickly asked for an armistice.  Negotiating with the British alone, they received stricter terms than they were hoping for, but were nonetheless compelled to accept.  The armistice, signed on the pre-dreadnought Agamemnon on the evening of October 30, went into effect at noon the following day.  Turkey would open the straits at the Dardanelles and Bosporus, and hand over control of their forts to the Allies.  The Turks would demobilize entirely, and surrender any remaining garrisons in Syria, Mesopotamia, Arabia, and Yemen.  All Allied prisoners of war and any remaining Armenians interned during the genocide would be handed over to the Allies, while Turkish PoWs would remain in Allied hands.  Finally, the Allies were given the blanket right to “occupy any strategic point in case of a threat to their security.”

When the armistice came into effect, the British had were on the border of European Turkey with Bulgaria; per the terms of the armistice, they moved on Constantinople, arriving there on November 12, joined by a fleet that had sailed peacefully through the Dardanelles.  The Young Turk leadership, including Enver, Talaat, and Djemal Pashas, fled the city by German U-boat on November 1. In Syria, Allenby’s forces were between Haritan and Alexandretta.  In Mesopotamia, British forces had hurriedly pushed north in the last week of October to secure British interests there before the end of the war, and on the day the armistice was signed they forced the surrender of most of the Turkish forces in the area.  However, by the time news of the armistice reached the area on November 1, they were still twelve miles south of Mosul.  Nevertheless, the British occupied the city on November 4, despite the Turks’ insistence that Mosul was not part of Mesopotamia and thus did not need to be surrendered under the terms of the armistice.  The British decision to ignore these objections would have profound consequences for the future of Iraq.

Today in 1917: Hertling New German Chancellor
Today in 1916: Sherif Hussein Proclaims Himself “King of the Arab Nation”
Today in 1915: New Commander at Gallipoli Urges Evacuation
Today in 1914: Fisher Replaces Battenberg as First Sea Lord

Sources include: Cyril Falls, Armageddon, 1918; Charles Townshend, Desert Hell; Eugene Rogan, The Fall of the Ottomans.