In Focus: photos from across the Middle East and Afghanistan’s Cameron Weymes presents a collection of his photos from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Afghanistan.

Iraq: Mosul Campaign (2016-2017)

In October 2016, Iraqi and Kurdish forces began a campaign to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State. The ensuing battle was described as the “deadliest urban combat to take place since the Second World War”. The battle was fought street by street and house to house over a period of nine months. The Islamic State defended Mosul using a variety of tactics, including suicide car bombs and commercial drones improvised to drop and detonate grenades. The city was finally declared liberated in July 2017.

A Moslawi man and his family are greeted by soldiers after fleeing Islamic State held territory. The family had been living under the Islamic State for almost three years and were among thousands of civilians in the city displaced by fighting. April 2017
Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) troops on duty in eastern Mosul. This elite, US-trained force led the initial offensive on the eastern half of the city. The soldiers generally refused to wear body armour or helmets despite having a 40% mortality rate on the frontline at one stage. One soldier told a US journalist “when you join the CTS, you sign up to die”. January 2017
A mortar fired by the Islamic State narrowly misses an Iraqi Army humvee. Iraqi forces were launching an attack on the western half of the city from the old airport. A Kurdish journalist had just been killed nearby after standing on a landmine left behind by the Islamic State. February 2017
Iraqi Federal Police on duty in western Mosul. April 2017

Syria (2019)

An all female workers cooperative in Kobani, Syria. The cooperative was set up in 2016 to provide employment for women, include them in the economy and give them financial independence. Ten women work full time to process mulukhiya leaves, which are used to make a bitter tasting soup. July 2019
A graveyard for martyrs of the Kurdish led YPG/J militia in Kobani Syria. The militia and its allies lost over 10,000 men and women in the fight against Islamic State. July 2019
Raqqa, the former capital of the Islamic State, was liberated in October 2017 by Kurdish-led forces. In the absence of significant international help, Raqqa’s residents have taken the initiative to rebuild their damaged city. July 2019
This sign demonstrates the dynamic nature of the Syrian Civil War like a tree’s rings show the weather. The first layer is an image of Bashar al-Assad, the second an Islamic State flag, followed by sporadic graffiti from the all female Kurdish YPJ militia – indicating the chronology in which the adjacent highway was controlled. July 2019
Young Syrians prepare to play football in Raqqa’s notorious football stadium. The stand behind the goal was previously used by the Islamic State for imprisoning, torturing and executing prisoners. July 2019
Half of the cities across northern Iraq and Syria seem to have these signs. Raqqa itself is a nice location for a city: its position along the Euphrates River means the surrounding countryside is green year round. July 2019

Afghanistan (2017-2018)

Afghanistan has been at war for over 40 years and is currently the deadliest conflict on Earth. Despite the violence, life goes on. For example, in the capital, Kabul, you can check the news to read of an ongoing terrorist attack in the city, then look out the window to see no discernible reaction from the people on the street.

Despite the conflict, the country remains one of the most beautiful and welcoming places on Earth

Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, is located 1,800 m above sea level (Ireland’s highest mountain is just over 1,000 m). The city is in a valley surrounded by the Hindu Kush mountains, resulting in a temperate climate with spectacular views. 2018
Shah-do-Shamshira Mosque, Kabul. 2017
Cricket is the most popular sport in Afghanistan and on weekends Kabul’s parks are full of young men playing the sport. The national team has had a lot of recent success against Ireland, including a T20 victory last month. 2018
The aftermath of a suicide bombing by the Taliban on a Kabul bank where five government employees were killed while collecting their salaries. August 29 2017
A bustling market in Kabul’s Taimani District. 2018

Lebanon (2017)

For many Irish people, Lebanon will always remain synonymous with the 15 year civil war and the kidnapping of Brian Keenan. Nowadays, the tiny Mediterranean nation is better known for peaceful protests, dodgy banks and as a holiday destination. In this photo, Lebanese citizens protest proposed tax hikes. March 17, 2017

Iraqi Kurdistan (2016-2019)

The semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region in northern Iraq during Spring. Unlike the rest of Iraq, the region is mountainous and its main cities have been relatively untouched by war since the 2003 US invasion. April 2019

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