CANDY AND CROSSROADS IN QAYYARAH - Foreign Policy

Displaced by ongoing fighting, Iraqi families are braving the journey to safety and stability not far from the offensive in Mosul.

QAYYARAH, Iraq — A young boy wearing a large blue backpack waits with his family at an Iraqi Army checkpoint on the northern edge of Qayyarah. He watches expressionless as a military convoy rumbles past; the massive war machines shake the ground. The boy’s face and hands are smeared with black streaks of soot. It’s the same grease that hangs in the air and covers nearly everything around Qayyarah — a result of the oil well fires left burning by the Islamic State.

THERE IS NO CHRISTMAS IN IRAQ THIS YEAR - Narratively

The country’s Christian heartland is finally free from ISIS rule. But those who left their families, homes and churches behind have found precious little hope remaining among the rubble.

Iraq’s Christian heartland was finally freed from more than two years of ISIS occupation this fall as troops closed in on the country’s second-largest city of Mosul. But not before the destruction wrought on ancient Christian towns like Bartella and Qaraqosh was nearly absolute. There is little left now but broken tombstones, burnt churches, abandoned bomb factories and booby-trapped houses.

PROTESTS AND POT SMOKING IN THE CITY OF BROTHERLY LOVE - Foreign Policy

Bernie Sanders supporters and the Pro-Hillary camp struggle to unite outside the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

PHILADELPHIA — Across from City Hall in downtown Philadelphia, Mississippi Democratic delegate Kelly Jacobs stood alone on a street corner surveying the scene in front of her. Jacobs had a Hillary Clinton sticker stuck to her arm and a jeweled “President Hillary” pin on her handmade dress depicting President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.

 

PACKING HEAT IN PUBLIC SQUARE - Foreign Policy

On the streets of Cleveland, armed protesters, police, and skeptical Clevelanders gather outside the Republican National Convention.

CLEVELAND — In Cleveland’s Public Square, Mark Steven, a 59-year-old white man from Anaheim, California, stood shouting next to fellow members of the Bible Believers, a group that has been espousing what can only be described as hate speech. Steven had come to Ohio for the four-day Republican National Convention that started Monday, July 18, to “lift up the banner of God, to lift up Jesus Christ to a lost and fallen nation.”

 

‘THE PESHMERGA ISN’T AFRAID OF ISIS’ - Foreign Policy

Fighting on the front lines, Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers have joined the Iraqi Army in a bloody battle against the Islamic State. But sharing a common enemy doesn’t make them easy allies.

MAKHMOUR, Iraq — Nonstop small-arms fire rattled across the grassy plains in this corner of northern Iraq. Ambulances raced down a dirt path away from the front lines, carrying wounded fighters. Reinforcements whizzed in the other direction. A large blast rocked the town of Nasr, roughly a mile from where I stood, and smoke flooded the air — either from an Islamic State suicide bomber or a coalition airstrike.

 

LIFE AFTER ISIS - Roads & Kingdoms / Slate

The Northern Iraqi city of Sinjar has been recaptured from ISIS, but it’s a long way from back to normal.

Sinjar, IRAQ—Atop a hill overlooking this Northern Iraqi town, the head of the Kurdistan Regional Government, President Masoud Barzani, positions himself behind a podium constructed of sandbags. It’s Friday, Nov. 13, and the sky is clear amid a drift of smoke trailing off into the far distance. Over Barzani’s shoulders, the brown streets and rows of houses of Sinjar stretch out over the horizon of the flat landscape. The sandbags are topped with microphones, a thin wire runs to a single, bare speaker.

 

THE THIRD FRONT - Roads & Kingdoms

In a dusty village surrounded by golden wheat fields on the outskirts of the Syrian town of al-Qamishli, I sit in a courtyard on a flimsy plastic chair sipping heavily sugared tea. Northeastern Syria, much like the rest of Kurdistan, must be a diabetes hotbed. Every cup leaves you wanting actual tea with the sugar. It’s early June, and as the sun sets, the air remains muggy. Across from me sits Mohammed Amin.