Shi'ite fighters launch a rocket during clashes with Islamic State militants on the outskirts of al-Alam in northern Iraq.
Reuters photographer Thaier Al-Sudani documented Iraqi security forces and mainly Shi'ite militia as their drove Islamic State insurgents out of the town.
"Most of the areas we were in didn’t have residents, so after the battle they would resemble ghost towns."
It was me and a few other Iraqi journalists working for local outlets. We went to the frontlines in coordination with the Iraqi government forces and supporting militias. As soon as we got to Camp Ashraf we were taken to one of the mosques and told we would be staying here. The fighters gave us blankets, water and eggs. We would eat with the fighters when we were on the road.
The press officer would come in the morning and take us to the frontline in a convoy. I had two cameras on me; a Canon 6D with a 16-35 lens and a Mark 4 with a 70/200 lens. I filed by either going back to a safe place away from the frontlines or, when it was very important to get the pictures out there as soon as possible, using a satellite phone to transmit and car batteries to power my equipment.
Whenever an area was won from Islamic State, the fighters would chant and pray and show victory signs. Most of the areas we were in didn’t have residents, so after the battle they would resemble ghost towns; nothing but burnt cars and charred bodies of Islamic State fighters. Al-Alam was an exception as it had some residents who chanted for the government forces after their victory.
The most touching photo I took was that of a woman hugging her brother whilst crying tears of joy and happiness. She had been living under Islamic State rule for six months and hadn’t seen her brother since IS took over. She was finally reunited with him when he got to the town as a fighter, helping to free it from Islamic State. It was a very emotional moment.