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The Cause of the Recent US Airstrike in Mosul is Even More Complicated Than You Think

The current fighting in Mosul is likely to be the last large-scale battle against ISIS in Iraq. In recent weeks, the battle has not gone as it should, leading to a spike in civilian casualties. Several factors may have contributed to this, including the fact that ISIS is trapped in Mosul due to conflicting military goals among key stakeholders, the withdrawal of the elite counterterrorism forces who achieved so much in east Mosul, the American desire for a quick victory over ISIS, and more.

One Mosul Family’s Story: Caught in the Crossfire of ISIS Snipers and Coalition Rocket Attacks

On the day that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced that the pro-government forces would begin to move into west Mosul, in their attempts to push ISIS out of the city, Abu Maad* took shelter in the basement of his house.

Children Who Need Heart Surgery Are Making a New Kind of Pilgrimage to the Ancient City of Karbala

Sunset in Karbala (photo by ن.عامری / CC BY-SA 4.0)

So this is how it ends?

He stopped at a tree, lowered himself until he rested on the scorched earth, and leaned back against the trunk. Blood soaked through his clothes, and his breath was ragged. These long hours of battle were the most brutal experience he had ever faced.

For These Doctors, the Frontlines Are in Operating Rooms and Clinics

Right now, Dr. Ahmed and Dr. Mohammad are in an operating room in Iraq, preparing a little girl named Adyan for heart surgery. The room, impeccably clean, is buzzing with activity. Local doctors are working alongside our international team of pediatric heart specialists, all doing their work with one goal in mind—saving the life of this girl.

We Cannot Bomb Our Way to Peace in Mosul

The other day, news broke that up to 200 people were killed in a U.S. airstrike in west Mosul.

This was not an isolated incident. There have been over 800 alleged civilian deaths from U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq this month alone.

The people of west Mosul are trapped in the middle of a war in which their humanity seems to count for very little.

ISIS Was Seconds Away From Executing Him: Mohammad's Incredible Story of Escape

“I just came from death! I just came from death!”

He’d grabbed one of us by the arm and was practically shouting between deep breaths—not something you expect to hear from someone, especially a random stranger.

Why We're Rebuilding Mosul Before the War Is Even Over...

Intense battles to liberate Mosul from ISIS control have taken a massive toll on the city, in every possible way. That’s why we are starting to rebuild the city and its infrastructure—renovating, stocking, and staffing medical clinics in east Mosul and undertaking a massive project to restore the city’s water system.

But the battle for Mosul is far from over. So, why are we rebuilding a city that is still at war?

Mosul Survivors Describe ISIS's Increasingly Desperate, Increasingly Brutal Tactics

Families arrive at a government checkpoint after escaping ISIS

A month has passed since Iraqi forces began to push ISIS out of west Mosul. ISIS appears to be becoming increasingly desperate, fighting to the death with no regard for civilian lives or property—and no apparent escape routes.

Our Response to the Hijabi Woman in London Says More About Us Than it Does About Her

Westminster Bridge, the scene of Wednesday's terror attack. Photo by D. Geezer/CC BY-NC 2.0

Maybe you’ve seen the hotly debated photo of a Muslim woman walking through the scene of Wednesday's terror attack in London. (We're not sharing the photo because she's asked people to stop circulating it after becoming the target of online abuse.)

If you have seen it, you probably already have a strong opinion about it, and about her.

But what if I told you that our response to this photo says more about our beliefs than it does about hers?

Mosul Water Update: ''You were the cause of happiness for thousands.''

Families in Mosul haven't had water for months. After years of ISIS sabotage and the ongoing battle to liberate Mosul, the water system is in ruins.

On World Water Day, we asked you help turn the water back on in Mosul—and you’re responding. We've started repairing hundreds of feet of pipe, so we can restore water for up to 1.6 million people.

Loving the People No One Else Will Love: It's a Commitment, Not A Contest

We go where no one else will go, to love those no one else will love.

It’s not a bragging statement. It’s not an empty slogan. It’s not a catchphrase.

War Created a Water Crisis in Mosul. Here's How We Can Solve It.

Imagine ISIS rolls into your city and sabotages your water supply. For years, you have nothing to drink but dirty, contaminated water. Eventually, bombs start falling from the sky. They are meant for ISIS—but they also blow huge craters in the street, destroying the water pipes beneath. Now, you don’t have any water—dirty or otherwise.

Families in Mosul have endured a years-long water crisis. It’s hard to imagine, with the mighty Tigris River running through the heart of the city.

But this is not your typical water crisis. It was caused entirely by human hands.

You Just Opened the First Medical Clinic in East Mosul

With three days notice, I flew to Iraq on a one-way ticket, simply because Preemptive Love asked me to and I could not turn down an opportunity like that. I knew they were going to Mosul and I wanted to witness their work in a city that is finally free from ISIS control.

More Than Headlines... Here Are the People of West Mosul

She asked for a photo, but then an airstrike hit nearby.

Then a family pulled me aside, asking for help getting food.

Then a man came along, saying he had just escaped ISIS a few minutes ago.

Then some women shouted at me, to warn that I was walking near an unexploded mortar.

Then, when I realized I’d forgotten to take a picture of that girl with the emerald eyes, she was gone.

Taking the Conversation Offline

Photos by Jenna Strubhar

This is a call to the women in my faith community to come together and rise above division.”

That was the start of Sally’s Facebook post inviting people into her home to create unity in a world that seems intent on driving us apart.

When Everyone Else Said She Wasn't Enough, You Said She Was

“Oh, you have tea cups. If you have teacups, why do you need our help to buy food? Why don’t you sell your teacups?”

Jameela stirs sugar into small glasses of tea before standing to serve the handful of women gathered in her home. Tea glasses are cheap enough to buy new. Her used set might fetch a few cents. Maybe a dollar if the buyer was generous.

Of course, then she and her sons would have no glasses to drink from.

As she tells the story of an earlier visit from another aid agency, it is clear that it’s still painful to her. They left without giving her family any help.

The Presence of Real Empowerment

Preemptive Love Coalition staff visit and listen to one of our empowerment grant recipients

Most Syrian refugees who are lucky enough to find a place in a camp receive more than one form of aid, from more than one source. But refugee families often tell us that aid programs sometimes make them feel like a number or a line on a spreadsheet, a tick in a checkbox marked “completed.”

Aid strives to be efficient. It needs to be.

But there is nothing efficient about rebuilding a shattered life.

Remembering Halabja, 29 Years After Saddam's Chemical Attack

Bombing of Halabja, 1988 (Béatrice Dillies au Kurdistan / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Note: This post contains an image of the aftermath of a chemical attack in 1988, which some readers may find disturbing. 

Today marks 29 years since Saddam Hussein massacred thousands of his own people in a chemical attack on the city of Halabja.

The Exponential Nature of Women's Empowerment

We sit in Widad’s guest room. It’s a combination living room/sewing workshop, with cushioned seating lining three walls and a sewing machine placed near the window to take advantage of daylight.

Arabic coffee is passed around in pretty cups and saucers that clink as we resettle to hear each other better. Four languages are spoken as we listen to stories—two Kurdish dialects, Arabic, and English—but between us all, we’re able to translate for each other. A baby sleeps in the corner despite the cacophony of voices.

It is all perfectly ordinary, and perfectly extraordinary. Widad hosts us all in her home without skipping a beat. It’s almost possible to forget that we’re in a camp for Syrian refugees, sitting among women who lost everything in war.

Six Years Later, Syria's Civil War is Still Raging. But You're Still Showing Up.

A year ago, we stood near the border separating Syria from Iraq. Behind us, ruined cities and mass graves—scars left by ISIS on the Iraqi landscape. In front of us, one of the most brutal conflicts of our lifetime.

The Syrian civil war reached the six-year mark today. Nearly half a million people are dead or missing. More than half the entire population has been uprooted by war.

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