The first draft of history: Dispatches from the frontline of war

Since 2001, Patrick Cockburn has provided peerless reporting of the wars that have torn apart the Middle East and created the conditions in which Al-Qaeda and Islamic State have grown and flourished. In the first of a series of excerpts from his new book, he combines eyewitness accounts of the battles for Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and beyond with an explanation of what these conflicts have in common – and how they were reported or misreported at the time

The women fighters putting the fear of death into Isis in Iraq

The all-women or 'jin' unit based in Kananshor village near Sinjar mountain is home to a rotating group of female fighters, who are particularly feared by Isis fighters, who believe that if they are killed by a woman they will not get to heaven

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