End of the Caliphate, Ivor Prickett's photography

Ivor Prickett End of the Caliphate

Civilians who had remained in west Mosul during the battle to retake the city, lined up for an aid distribution in the Mamun neighbourhood. Iraq, March 2017.

Iraqi special forces soldiers surveyed the aftermath of an ISIS suicide car bomb that managed to reach their lines in the Andalus neighbourhood of east Mosul. Iraq, January 2017., Ivor Prickett/The New York Times

Civilians fled heavy clashes between Iraqi special forces and ISIS militants early in the morning in the Jadidah neighbourhood of west Mosul. Iraq, March 2017., Ivor Prickett/The New York Times

An unidentified young boy who was carried out of the last ISIS controlled area in the Old City, by a man suspected of being a militant, was cared for by Iraqi Special Forces soldiers. Iraq, July 2017., Ivor Prickett/The New York Times

Nadhira Rasoul looked on as Iraqi Civil Defence workers dug out the bodies of her sister and niece from her house in the Old City of Mosul, where they were killed by an airstrike in June 2017. Iraq, September 2017., Ivor Prickett/The New York Times

25-year-old Mohammed Sheko fed his SDF comrade, 18-year-old Salah Al Raqawi, at a hospital for injured fighters in Kurdish controlled Syria. The men were both injured in the previous week while fighting ISIS in Raqqa. Syria, October 2017., Ivor Prickett/The New York Times

Students chatted and walked through a partially repaired section of Mosul university during lunch break. The prestigious university was badly damaged in the fight to retake the city from ISIS but students began to return as soon as the city was liberated. Iraq, December 2017., Ivor Prickett/The New York Times

A group of volunteers worked to collect unclaimed bodies, most of them suspected of being those of ISIS members, from the ruins of the Old City district where the militants made their last stand. Iraq, February 2018., Ivor Prickett/The New York Times

Young couples enjoyed a ride at a newly reopened theme park on the banks of the river Tigris in east Mosul. After ISIS life is coming back to the city and people are starting to enjoy things that were banned under the militants rule, Iraq 2018., Ivor Prickett/The New York Times

Eissa al-Ali and his family returned home to their heavily destroyed neighbourhood in Raqqa after years of being displaced. The battle to liberate the city from ISIS destroyed 80% of building and likely killed thousands of civilians. Syria, June 2018., Ivor Prickett/The New York Times

Artist's statement

This body of work is a reminder of the power of people to endure and survive no matter what.

Nadhira sat in a plastic chair 15 feet from where excavator was digging through the ruins of her home in Mosul’s Old City. At times she was engulfed in dust whipped up as the driver dumped mounds of stone and parts of her house beside her, but she refused to move. Slowly they found the remains of her sister and niece, who had been killed when the house was flattened by an airstrike in the final weeks of battle to defeat ISIS in Mosul in the summer of 2017.

The levels of violence and killing that I witnessed while doing this work were beyond comprehension. During the nearly two years that I documented the battle to defeat ISIS and its aftermath in Iraq and Syria, I struggled to see the high cost of the war as anything but disastrous. In Mosul alone the death toll was estimated to be over nine thousand and vast tracts of the city were left in ruins.

However, I also saw glimmers of hope for humanity amid the rubble strewn aftermath.

Meeting Nadhira was one of those moments. 

Her defiance that day was simultaneously one of the most heart-breaking and inspiring things I have ever seen. Her stoicism in the face of absolute loss was a deeply symbolic moment for me. One which seemed to speak volumes about the futility of war and the failure of intervention in Iraq, but was also a testament to the depth of strength people have in this fractured region.

Less than a year after the battle concluded, signs of life began returning to Mosul.

I was drawn to photographing young couples laughing as they enjoyed themselves at a newly reopened theme park on the banks of the river Tigris. Through the shrieks of joy and booming Iraqi disco music, it was hard to imagine what had passed here not so long before.

One of the most moving scenes I witnessed was of students coming back in force to attend classes at the prestigious University of Mosul, which was heavily damaged during the fighting. Those young minds gave me hope for the future of this majestic city. A new generation was choosing to learn and equip themselves with knowledge as a weapon.

This selection of images is not an all-encompassing view of war, but rather a beacon of strength in the midst of terrible hardship. They can give us hope despite the challenges we face as a global community.

About the photographer


1983, Ireland



Based in

Europe and the Middle East

Most recently the work of Ivor Prickett has focused on the fight to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Working exclusively for the The New York Times he spent months on the ground reporting in both words and pictures. His work in Iraq and Syria earned him first prize in the General News Stories category of the 2018 World Press Photo and he was named as a finalist in the Breaking News Photography category of the Pulitzer Prizes. The entire body of work entitled ‘End of the Caliphate’ is due to be released as a book by German publisher Steidl in 2019. Based in the region since 2009, Ivor documented the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings in Egypt and Libya, working simultaneously on editorial assignments and his own long-term projects.

Travelling to more than ten countries between 2012 and 2015 he documented the Syrian refugee crisis in the region as well as Europe, working closely in collaboration with UNHCR to produce the body of work Seeking Shelter. Dreams of a Homeland is the result of spending extended periods of time in northern Iraq and Syria with the Kurdish people striving for recognition in the region. With a particular interest in the aftermath of war and its humanitarian consequences, his early projects focused on stories of displaced people throughout the Balkans and Caucasus and culminated in the form of Returning Home.

Ivor’s work has been recognised through a number of prestigious awards including The World Press Photo, The Pulitzer Prizes, The Overseas Press Club Awards, Pictures of the Year International, Foam Talent, The Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize and The Ian Parry Scholarship.

His pictures have been exhibited widely at institutions such as Foam Gallery Amsterdam and The National Portrait Gallery, London. He is represented by Verbatim Images in New York and his archive is managed by Panos Pictures in London. He is a European Canon Ambassador and holds a degree in Documentary Photography from the University of Wales Newport.