Abdullah Hazbar is seen from outside of a tent in Kirkuk, Iraq, on Jan. 27, 2015. Abdulla was wounded by an Iraqi airplane bombing when he left the village with his family. He lost three brothers and one sister. (Hawre Khalid)

Kirkuk is a city of Northern Iraq in the Kurdish region of the country. Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, Christians and foreign workers live beside one another. Back in the day, Saddam Hussein initiated several campaigns to Arabize Kirkuk, evicting Kurdish families and giving their homes over to families from south of Iraq. But when the U.S.-led invasion of 2003 reached the city, Kurdish forces worked to reverse this process. The city fell within the so-called disputed areas; responsibility for administration and security was shared between Baghdad and the Kurdish authorities.  


Hewar Faris cleans the living room in the house where she lives with her family in Kirkuk on Sept. 25, 2014. Hewar, 22, is the goalkeeper of the female football team Solav, as well as being an actress in a mixed theater company. (Hawre Khalid)

Omer helps his father when he distributes kerosene to IDPs at Laylan IDP camp, south of Kirkuk, on Jan. 20, 2015. His father is originally from Sudan but came to Iraq as a refugee in 2001. On Sept. 12 when the Iraqi army started airstrikes over the province, they sought refuge in Kirkuk. (Hawre Khalid)

When people step out of their houses in my home town, they tell their loved ones, “I hope to see you again” — there’s no guarantee they will make it back. I started photographing Kirkuk in 2007. The security situation has been bad since 2003, but it took a turn for the worst with the war against the Islamic State. The war is very close to the city and people are scared. The economy worsened and there are fewer jobs. Arabs are suspicious of the Turkmen and Peshmergas and the other way around. There are still explosions and kidnappings. The city has long been a dangerous place, a flashpoint for Iraq’s many ethnic and sectarian conflicts.


A Kurdish wedding in Kirkuk on March 31, 2016. (Hawre Khalid)

Blood on the pavement at the site of a suicide bombing in Kirkuk on June 25, 2014, which killed five people and wounded 19 earlier in the afternoon. The Rahimawa neighborhood is a Kurdish area in the north of Kirkuk. (Hawre Khalid)

Iraqi police look for Islamic State fighters inside a house in Kirkuk in the middle of the night on July 21, 2015. (Hawre Khalid)

Children are scared when Iraqi police enter their house in Kirkuk to look for Islamic State fighters in the middle of night on July 21, 2015. (Hawre Khalid)

The city is controlled by military members from nearby Iraqi Kurdistan. Many in that semiautonomous northern region consider this a triumph — when the Iraqi army fled in the face of the extremist group known as the Islamic State, the Iraqi Kurdish military seized the opportunity to take control of the city, After the Islamic State is expelled from the country or sufficiently diminished, Kirkuk will undoubtedly be the subject of much tense negotiation between Baghdad and Erbil — I have looked past that, to document my home town in this series of pictures, allowing outsiders a glimpse into daily life in one of Iraq’s most fraught, most fought-over and oftentimes most dangerous cities.


Kirkuk residents are seen on an amusement park ride at the Baba Gorgor Park in Kirkuk on July 29, 2014. (Hawre Khalid)

Nazhad Ahmed, a Peshmerga officer from Kirkuk, was killed on Oct. 21, 2016, after approximately 100 Islamic State fighters sneaked into the city, resulting in a clash between the local forces and the fighters. His family members visit his grave on Oct. 27, 2016. A Kurdish flag marks his identity as Kurdish, most of the Kurdish people from Kirkuk are more affiliated with the Kurdish identity than the Iraqi side. (Hawre Khalid)

Mahmud Hazbar is pictured in Kirkuk on Jan. 15, 2015. Mahmud was wounded by an Iraqi airstrike when he was with his family on the way to Qratapa, after leaving their village. At the same time, he lost three brothers and one sister. (Hawre Khalid)

A waitress works in Bab Alhara cafe on Komari Street in Kirkuk on April 3, 2015. Bab Alhara is the only cafe where women are allowed to work. (Hawre Khalid)

A suspected Islamic State fighter is handcuffed at the police base when he arrested during the raid in Chardakhlo village, south of Kirkuk, on Oct. 25, 2015. (Hawre Khalid)

A man sleeps on the side of the road to avoid long lines in the morning at the petrol station in Kirkuk on June 24, 2014. Fuel had been running low in Kirkuk and was rationed. (Hawre Khalid)

Laylan IDP camp south of Kirkuk is seen on Jan. 22, 2015. About 8,450 people live at the camp, which has about 1,500 tents. (Hawre Khalid)

Hawre Khalid is a photographer based in Baghdad.

More on In Sight:

A former refugee’s moving photos of a crisis that he knows so well

A diary of the Middle East in the 1930s

Turning ordinary into magical: Amateur photographer presents new look at life in India