What the war on terror looks like

THE GAP could not be greater between the war on the Islamic State as it is narrated, on one side, and how it is experienced by ordinary people trapped in the crossfire, on the other. In Iraq, the story pushed by the various anti-Daesh protagonists is a consensual and simple one: as progress is made toward recapturing the city of Mosul, civilians held hostage by terrorists are freed; the former receive aid, while the latter are exterminated; and despite the hodgepodge of uncoordinated external forces, Iraqi troops and local militias, the unity of purpose created by the Islamic State is papering over potential divisions.

The reality is one where the most vulnerable Iraqis have almost no one to count on and virtually everyone to fear. Although their exact number is anyone’s guess, there are reportedly hundreds of thousands of civilians holed up in Mosul. No party to the campaign has enforced, or even discussed, a humanitarian corridor to facilitate their escape.

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Illustration credit: Sandro Botticelli Chart of Hell by Wikipedia / licensed by CC.