MOSUL, Iraq (AP) — The operation to drive the Islamic State group out of Mosul has brought together an eclectic mix of Iraqis — young and old, police and soldiers, and a variety of irregular uniforms and equipment.
Often the forces look rag-tag, sometimes professional. But many chose looks that are highly original for the fight, not expected to end anytime soon.
Not all soldiers wear uniforms, or markings, insignia or even body armor. One Iraqi army soldier wore only a T-shirt and a black-and-white scarf, proudly displaying his Soviet-designed PK machine gun. At a checkpoint in Gwer, 30 kilometers (19 miles) southeast of Mosul, a Kurdish peshmerga fighter wrapped his rifle in the colors of the Kurdish flag.
Iraqi police and intelligence have also joined the fray. One such recruit, just 19 years old, wore a green medical mask while working as guard for national security forces.
A month into the offensive, dozens of troops and civilians have lost their lives, and thousands of residents have fled. Iraqi forces have a foothold in eastern Mosul and are advancing slowly, fighting house to house. But with IS fighting from within densely populated neighborhoods, the battle for the city is far from over.
Here is a selection of portraits by AP photographer Marko Drobnjakovic of fighters taking part in the battle for Mosul.
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