[Cover image: Runak Bapir Gherib, a 14 y.o. from Shengal, makes her way down the mountain after 7 days with her mother and sister. Photo: Zmnako Ismael/ Metrography]
When he arrived, Ahmed was still covered in dust. He was just back from the military base in Daquq, a few miles away from the ISIS-controlled territories of Iraq. His boss, Stefano Carini, had insisted they meet before the Eid al-Adha holiday; he was impatient to see Ahmed’s work.
They met in a café in Sulaymaniyah, a Kurdish city of 1.5 million people, on a late afternoon last week. Ahmed (not his real name) is a 25-year old music student and a photographer. He had just witnessed the heaviest fighting in his base since the beginning of the war, but he seemed very calm. Collected.
He handed his memory cards to Carini and sipped coffee as the two of them looked over his pictures. Carini was amazed. He was struck by one shot in particular—the closest one he had ever seen from the frontline. In the image, a few peshmergas are ducking for cover behind sand bags while being shot at by ISIS. A fighter has just launched a rocket grenade. You can still see the smoke left in its wake [image below].