Iraq: the harsh and uncomfortable reality of war
American photojournalist Michael Kamber covered the Iraq War for the "New York Times" from 2003 to 2012. He is also winner of the World Press Photo Award. In this interview with Qantara.de, he explains how important it is to him to provide an accurate insight into and a comprehensive historical documentation of the war. This picture gallery presents a small selection of photos from his time covering the war in Iraq.
Baghdad, 13 November 2003: members of the Iraqi Police's Major Crimes Unit conduct the unit's first raid on the streets of Baghdad. The officer on the left is running to the home of a suspected criminal with a man arrested minutes earlier, who had agreed to identify the house in question. This unit was trained and equipped by the US and a number of European nations.
14 November 2003: the families of the woman and child pictured here are squatting in the ruins of the Iraqi Air Force Club, which used to be a meeting place and recreation site for Iraqi Air force officers and was looted after the war.
Balad, 2004: US Soldiers raid a neighbourhood and carry away Iraqi men suspected of being insurgents while being watched by a small group of schoolgirls.
Abu Ghraib, May 2004: after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, there was no legal system in place in Iraq. Overwhelmed by the situation facing them, the Americans frequently held Iraqi prisoners with little or no legal representation for months or years on end. Here, a mother waits outside Abu Ghraib holding up a photo of her son, who was arrested in an American raid and is being held in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison.
Karbala, 16 May 2004: fighters from the Mahdi Army, followers of the Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr, take up positions around the shrine of Imam Hussein in the centre of Karbala as they fight against US troops trying to dislodge them from the city. Here, a fighter with a picture of Moqtada Sadr on his chest holds a machine gun while another fighter prays in the background.
Sadr City, Baghdad, 5 June 2004: members of the 1st Cavalry Division and 759th MP Battalion pull the driver's body from an armoured vehicle after an improvised explosive device destroyed the vehicle and caused it to roll over three times.
Sadr City, Baghdad, 14 June 2004: Ssg. Jessie Lopez, centre, has his picture taken at his re-enlistment ceremony. "I don't want to leave the Army and end up working at McDonalds," said Lopez. "Here, I get a steady cheque and benefits for my wife and two kids." Lopez re-enlisted for five more years and also got a $10,000 bonus. He expects to serve for 20 years and then retire.
Khadamiya, Baghdad, 22 April 2007: members of the 82nd Airborne, 1-325, Delta Company on patrol on the streets of Khadamiya, a mainly Shia Muslim part of Baghdad. In 2009, a bomb blast in Khadamiya exploded near the most important shrine for Shia Muslims in the city, killing at least seven and injuring at least 20.
Khadamiya, Baghdad, 22 April 2007: members of the 82nd Airborne, 1-325, Delta Company on patrol on the streets of Khadamiya. Such patrols were often very dangerous for the troops. In March 2008, for example, five US soldiers were killed by a suicide bomber while on patrol in Baghdad. Three other troops and an Iraqi interpreter were also injured in the blast.
Baghdad, May 2007: Iraqi civilians as seen through the window of a US Army Humvee.
Ramadi, 2007: throughout their time in Iraq, US troops had to search private homes, searching for weapons and insurgents. Sometimes, large scale raids were planned for entire towns, such as the western Iraqi town of Haditha in 2005 when hundreds of troops searched houses simultaneously. Here, a US soldier searches a private home late at night while children sleep on the floor.
Iraq, 13 May 2007: a US soldier sits in an armchair during a search of a private home in Iraq.
Latifiyah, 19 May 2007: a wounded US soldier is loaded onto a helicopter after suffering serious injuries from shrapnel from a land mine or IED that exploded and killed a comrade. The soldiers were taking part in the search for three US soldiers who had been captured several days previously. When the patrol continued with several other groups of US and Iraqi soldiers, another US soldier was shot in the forehead and critically injured by an Iraqi sniper.
Latifiyah, 19 May 2007: US troops mark the landing spot for a resupply chopper with green smoke. The chopper brought them food and water. The original group of soldiers that started this patrol encountered tragedy after an explosion killed a US soldier and wounded 4 coalition soldiers. The soldiers were taking part in the search for three other US soldiers who had been captured several days previously.