Two men, captured on the Tal Hamis Syrian front by YPG militias (the Syrian equivalent of the Turkish Kurdistan Workers Party), Al-Malikiyah, Syria – March 2015. (Emilien Urbano/Myop)

Kobani, Ayn al Arab, Syria – February 2015. (Emilien Urbano/Myop)

Photographer Emilien Urbano’s project “War of a Forgotten Nation” takes us on a visceral, sometimes visually poetic, journey inside the war against the Islamic State. Urbano began the project in August 2014, just two months after Islamic State insurgents staged a surprise takeover of Mosul, one of Iraq’s biggest and most strategically located cities. Urbano’s project follows mostly Kurdish factions battling against the Islamic State and sometimes also against Turkish forces. Here is more about the project, in Urbano’s words:

“Following the offensive of the jihadist Islamic State organisation and the siege of Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, on the 10th of June 2014….Kurdish fighters from Iraq, Syria and Turkey have risen against them.

In seized territory all over Iraq and Syria…ISIS has captured, enslaved and committed mass murders against minorities like Yazidis, Kurds, or Shia Muslims.

Since then, Kurdish fighters from the Turkish outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and Peshmergas in Iraq have become the main force fighting the jihadists in northern Syria and northern Iraq, winning successive, important battles and acquiring territories, subsequently making the self-declared Jihadist Caliphate weaker by the day.

Nestled between Empires and surrounded by conquerors, Kurdish people inhabiting the Kurdistan regions in Turkey, Iraq, Syria, as well as Iran, have been envisioning the creation of an Independent State for a hundred years and for the first time feel closer to realising that dream.”


A YPG fighter at a rear base and observation point. Ras al Ayn, Syria – March 2015. (Emilien Urbano/Myop)

Demonstration, Cizre, Turkey – August 2015. (Emilien Urbano/Myop)

Sinjar, Iraq – November 2015. (Emilien Urbano/Myop)

Al Hasakah Province, Syria – February 2015. (Emilien Urbano/Myop)

Monument to Hafez al-Assad, President Bashar al-Assad’s father and former leader of Syria. Al Hasakah, Syria – September 2015. (Emilien Urbano/Myop)

Iraqi Yazidis, who fled their homes after Islamic State militants attacked the town of Sinjar. Duhok, Iraq – August 2014. (Emilien Urbano/Myop)

The bodies of two Yazidis, killed by the Islamic State, Sinjar, Iraq – August 2014. (Emilien Urbano/Myop)

Kurdish Peshmerga military compound in Mollah Abdullah, Kirkuk area, Iraq. (Emilien Urbano/Myop)

YPS (a Kurdish rebel group) fighters train in Nusaybin, Turkey, on the border with Syria. – February 2016. (Emilien Urbano/Myop)

Al Hasakah Province, Syria – March 2015. (Emilien Urbano/Myop)

Cizre, Turkey, on the border of Syria and Iraq – March 2016. (Emilien Urbano/Myop)

Duhok, Iraq – December 2014. (Emilien Urbano/Myop)

Sinjar, Iraq – November 2015. (Emilien Urbano/Myop)