One of the image published by the Sunday Times Magazine on November 27,2016. (Credit Joey L.)

Last month I travelled with photographer Joey L. in Iraq and Syria. In the first part of the journey we worked with Oxfam around Mosul area. It was an amazing reporting experience, especially in Qayyara where the burning oil wells, set on fire by ISIS while retreating. The scene is almost apocalyptic. Oxfam is doing an amazing job on the ground. I have seen first-hand.

The Sunday Times Magazine published Joey’s amazing pictures and my article with the title: “The Day the Sun Never Rose.” Below you will find the longer version of it.

QAYYARA (Iraq) – A haze of thick black smoke obscured the view of the sky. The only source of illumination was a wall of flames at least three-stories high. A constant humming drone came from boiling oil which looked like lava ready to spill out from a volcano. Suddenly a small pin prick of light revealed itself through the thick, noxious clouds- a reminder that it was actually the middle of the day.

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On Wednesday morning  Syrians citizens received on their mobile phones two “absurd” text messages from the regime. They were addressing civilians and rebels in east Aleppo, asking them to participate to a football match on Thursday at noon, “a goodwill gesture on the road to national reconciliation.”

Text message received by Syrian citizens

“Rebels in the neighborhoods of east Aleppo, anyone who wants to attend or participate in the football match should come to Hamdaniyeh Stadium on Thursday 11/24 at 12:00 pm through the passageways announced previously”

“Rebels in the  neighborhoods of east Aleppo, the governorate of Aleppo invites you to attend and participate in a football match, as a gesture of goodwill on the way to achieving national reconciliation”


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Abdel Albisir Mohammed in the Hashd Al Shaabi headquarters in Haj Ali, Iraq (Benedetta Argentieri for War is Boring)

It has been described as unpredictable, sometime violent but the Shia militia Hashd Al Shaabi, also known as Popular Mobilization Front, is gaining momentum in Iraq.

Hashd al Shaabi, was formed in 2014 as the Iraqi Army was defeated by the Islamic State in several areas of the country. In September 2015 the Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi declared at the UN General Security Council they were part of the official state forces. Hashd Al Shaabi takes order directly from Baghdad.

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Benedetta Argentieri

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