An intimate view of the war’s toll
TEXT BY Jared Malsin / PHOTOGRAPHS BY Emanuele Satolli for TIME
The battle for Mosul is approaching an endgame. Over nearly half a year of fighting, an Iraqi-led, American-backed military offensive has driven ISIS out of more than half the city and surrounded the militants in an enclave on the western bank of the Tigris. As a result, the Islamic State is on the brink of losing the largest and most important city it once claimed as a part of its realm in Iraq and Syria.
The fighting is taking an increasing toll on civilians. During a reporting trip with Italian photographer Emanuele Satolli in March and April, residents recounted terrifying scenes: ISIS militants taking human shields and imprisoning people in their homes, airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition that leveled entire houses. Reports of civilian deaths from American-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria soared in March to more than 1,700, an all-time high in the campaign against ISIS.
In its wake, the battle leaves otherworldly scenes of destruction and desperation. The reclaimed section of Western Mosul still lacks running water, electricity and reliable sources of food. At a displacement camp south of the city, we saw police shooting in the air to contain crowds of people clamoring for cardboard boxes of aid.
During the days we spent in and around Mosul, we met many Mosul residents who endured the bizarre and brutal rule of ISIS, survived the battle and who still faced an uncertain and foreboding future.
Emanuele Satolli is an Italian photographer based in Istanbul. Follow him on Instagram @emanuelesatolli.
Andrew Katz, who edited this photo essay, is TIME’s Senior Multimedia Editor. Follow him on Twitter @katz.