Vivid Photos Show What America's New War on Terror in Syria Actually Looks Like

Source: AP
Source: AP

For more than a month, Kurdish militia and Islamic State fighters have battled on the streets of Kobani, a small town straddling the Syria-Turkey border that has become a focal point of the West's military campaign against IS. While American officials admit Kobani may fall, an estimated 135 U.S. airstrikes have pounded Kobani so far, weakening the militants' control.

Media coverage of the campaign against IS has focused on the political maneuvering of the U.S. and Turkish governments, meaning many outlets have failed to capture the sheer destruction and devastation wrought on this tiny town and its surrounding areas, from which more than 400,000 refugees have fled. Refugees are now recounting stories of torture, mutilation and rape in the hands of IS fighters, while U.S.-led airstrikes intensify and an airdrop of weapons may have made its way to both Kurdish fighters and IS militants.

Often, foreign conflicts become abstract calculations, conveyed across the world as headlines, statistics and statements from government officials. These vivid photos from photojournalists capture the true face of America's new war on terror.


Thick smoke and flames from an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition rise in Kobani, as seen from a hilltop at the Turkey-Syria border Monday. 


An airstrike on Kobani sends smoke and dust into the air, as seen from the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern town of Suruc, Turkey, on Wednesday. Turkey will allow Iraqi Kurdish fighters to travel through its territory to reinforce the Syrian Kurdish force.


Syrian Kurd Kiymet Ergun, 56, celebrates in Suruc following an airstrike on Kobani Oct. 13.


 An airstrike in Kobani on Tuesday.


An explosion from an airstrike illuminates buildings in Kobani Monday. 


Dust, smoke and heat pour off an explosion from an airstrike on Kobani Saturday.


An explosion lights up the night sky in Kobani Saturday.


More than 400,000 people from Kobani and its surrounding villages have fled to neighboring Turkey.


A Kurdish refugee from Kobani prepares tea in front of her family's tent in a camp in Suruc Wednesday. 


Thick smoke and dust rise in Kobani from an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition Wednesday.


Syrian refugees from Kobani board a truck on the Turkish-Syrian border as fighting intensifies on Oct. 5.


Wednesday, mourners in Suruc carry the coffins of Kurdish fighters killed in Kobani in a battle against IS militants. 

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Coleen Jose

Coleen Jose is a multimedia journalist and documentary photographer based in New York City writing on international news and U.S. foreign policy for Mic. Previously, she reported across the Philippines for GlobalPost and Scientific American. She has also reported on environmental exploitation as a grantee of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and examines the role of climate change in global security.

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