Detroit Area Photojournalist Captures Haunting Images of Battle of Mosul

“People appeared from destroyed houses, asking for food, water, or just a way out of the city.”

Courtesy of Kenny Karpov

The battle to retake Mosul — ISIS’ previous stronghold in Iraq — has come to an end after months of heavy fighting.

The Iraqi government and its allies in the mission have declared victory. But the fight has taken an unimaginable human toll.

Thousands of civilians have been killed, some groups estimate in the tens of thousands, many of them women and children.

Hundreds of buildings have been destroyed and thousands more damaged during the fighting.

Detroit area photojournalist Kenny Karpov was in Mosul during the final days of the Battle of Mosul. He debriefs the crumbling state of the city with Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson. 

“(There were) hundreds of burned cars, barricades everywhere; the bodies of ISIS members, civilians, soldiers, still lying there…the stench was everywhere,” he says. “Most people don’t understand how difficult it is for the residents. They have nothing to do with the conflict and just want to survive.” 

Karpov has also spent time in the last year covering the international refugee crisis.

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation and view more of Karpov’s photography below.

[Warning: These images of war may be disturbing to some]

Three civilians are brought to an area outside the Old City in Mosul. This is aftermath of fierce fighting between Iraqi special forces and the Islamic State in Mosul.

Hundreds of civilians flee from the Old City, where they were caught in the crossfire of the war in recent weeks. They are treated by CADUS, an independent aid organization, and then taken to a relief centers.

Displaced civilians flee late-night fighting between Iraqi security forces and ISIS militants in the historical Old City.

Crying and yelling civilians rush to a safety check point outside the Old City.

The CADUS team drives into the Old City to treat and rescue civilians. This area of Mosul is mostly destroyed from the fighting that started in November.

Malte (last name unknown), a paramedic from Germany administers CPR to a women whose house was hit by an airstrike.

Elisa (last name unknown) uses an ultrasound machine to check on a boy’s kidney. He was recently operated on by ISIS, which allegedly took one of his kidneys. ISIS reportedly sells human organs harvested from living civilians, and its own dead soldiers. They are said to sell human hearts, livers and kidneys on the lucrative international black market.

A young girl is with her brothers and sisters. Their family was hit by an airstrike earlier in the evening.

Stefan (last name unknown), a doctor from Berlin, has a chat with a fellow medic at a Trauma Stabilization Point (TSP), a converted butcher shop.

Elisa, a doctor from Berlin, treats a young girl with wounds to her chest and arm.

A young girl looks through an opening at the main TSP location that the Iraqi 9th Division Army share with CADUS.

Ryan (last name unknown), a medic from Canada, falls silent after transporting a severely burned solider to another hospital outside of the city.

A young boy is treated for burns and a head wound.

Elisa lays in a hammock with baby Merino (last name unknown). He was brought to the CADUS location by civilians, none of whom were his family. Merino didn’t move or open his eyes upon first check. After Elisa and the CADUS staff starting feeding him milk and water, he opened his eyes and cried.

Displaced civilians are treated after an airstrike leveled their home. Most of the children suffered wounds from falling debris and shrapnel.

This four-year-old girl is of Chechen descent. Her parents came to Iraq to fight for ISIS. Her father was a sniper. Both of her parents were killed. She is now in the custody of an international non-governmental organization called “Save The Children”.

A soldier supports his comrade during a difficult moment. Doctors and medics try and save his friend, a fellow solider, who is severely wounded from a mortar strike. The wounded man later died from his injuries.

Elisa and the team work fast to treat a wounded solider that was shot multiple times by a sniper.

A teen boy is treated by Dr. Stefan (last name unknown). The boy sustained injuries to his chest, head and left hand after an IED went off as he was rummaging through a garbage receptacle looking for copper and other metals to sell.

A young Yezidi boy is cleaned by one of the Iraqi medical staff while other medical staff and a solider photograph the severely malnourished and dehydrated boy.

The Yezidi boy says he was kidnapped with his family by ISIS three years ago. His family was killed shortly thereafter. The boy was kept as a slave for ISIS. A number of ISIS fighters in a house in the Old City ordered the boy to grab water. On his way back, an airstrike destroyed the house where he was being held. He dropped the water and ran. Later that day the boy was found by the 9th Division Iraqi Army. He has since been reunited with his uncle, who lives in Erbil, Iraq.

A young boy leans again his mother, who is worried about her daughter. Her daughter sustained injuries from an U.S. airstrike.

A man lays in the 9th TSP location with blast wounds to his chest and legs. He sustained these injuries from a IED that went off while he was walking.

An IED exploded tearing apart the man’s thigh, and he sustained shrapnel cuts to his legs with lacerations and bone fractures. The bomb went off while he was walking around the newly liberated Old City in Mosul.

An IED exploded tearing apart the man’s thigh, and he sustained shrapnel cuts to his legs with lacerations and bone fractures. The bomb went off while he was walking around the newly liberated Old City in Mosul.

An IED exploded tearing apart the man’s thigh, and he sustained shrapnel cuts to his legs with lacerations and bone fractures. The bomb went off while he was walking around the newly liberated Old City in Mosul.

A friend and the victim’s brother cry next to the body of a dead man. He was killed by an IED that was buried beneath some rubble in the Old City, while trying to gather metals to sell for money.

Civilians return to the Old City via military trucks, or any way they can. They have not yet seen the extent of the destruction to their homes.

Civilians catch a ride back into the Old City.

Malte cares for a young boy who is badly wounded from a mortar strike that killed his sister and a younger brother.

A woman holds her lifeless daughter who was killed by an airstrike. An Iraqi nurse cries and waits for the grieving mother to hand over her daughter.

A group of young children play and pose for the camera outside the TSP location shared by CADUS and the 9th Division Army.

An Iraqi family waits in the trauma center to be seen by the CADUS team.


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