It's business as usual on outskirts of smoke-shrouded Mosul

Life must go on for those living beneath the thick black smoke released from burning oil wells in the liberated areas south of Mosul

Megan Townsend
Photographs by Chris McGrath
,May Bulman
Friday 11 November 2016 17:35
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Boys play in a street outside their home in front of a burning oil well set on fire by fleeing Isis members
Boys play in a street outside their home in front of a burning oil well set on fire by fleeing Isis members

Residents of Al Qayyarah, a town in the Nineveh province south of Mosul, are slowly returning to their normal lives after years of Isis control. Despite the black smoke clouds hanging overhead, shops and markets are open for busisness, local buses and taxis are running and children are playing on the street. As Isis troops have fled the advancement of Iraqi forces from villages in the Nineveh area, they have been setting oil wells ablaze to cover themselves from air assaults and to further terrorise local people before they retreat from towns and villages. More than 60 homes in the town were destroyed at the end of August when militants reportedly rigged wellheads with improvised explosive devices before using snipers to shoot at them until they exploded, throwing oil out to the surrounding areas. The raging fires are still ablaze two months on. An Oxfam spokeswoman who has been working regularly in Al Qayarrah told The Independent that the smoke is now many people's “number one concern” as the health of the children and the elderly drastically deteriorates.

Black plumes of smoke hang over the street market; locals stand idle as a cow wanders by 
People shopping at the local market; smoke from a burning oil fills the sky 
A man strolls through a derelict street but it's hard to tell what time of day it is
Sheep with wool blackened by smoke from the burning oil wells 
Taxi drivers waiting by the roadside for business against the backdrop of heavily polluted skies 
The sun barely barely breaks through the darkness, while people try to restore power to a street
A young boy plays on rubble at a destroyed football stadium
Driving the tractor to work in the gloom of the day 
A woman makes bread under smoke-filled skies
Children play on rubble at a destroyed football stadium
Heavy smoke from burning oil wells virtually blocks the distant sun 
Two boys play in a street outside their home
Children standing outside their home in a street close to a burning oil well
A young boy covers his mouth as heavy smoke from burning oil wells fills the sky

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