Photo via Hmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images

In the aftermath of a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and amid the coalition’s domination of its airspace, Iraqi government forces responded to a bid for independence by the ethnic Kurds in the northern part of the country with force, deploying military assets to secure the region’s oil-rich refinery cities and solidify Baghdad’s long-term control over the country.

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Army photos by Sgt. Brandon L. Rizzo

The United States Army is quickly reorganizing to expand its training, advising, and assistance to foreign forces — even as two militaries trained and equipped by the U.S. are clashing with each other in the contested Iraqi city of Kirkuk. The flaring military confrontation between Kurds and Iraqi federal troops highlights the dangers of bolstering the battlefield capabilities of foreign governments whose objectives don’t necessarily align with America’s national interests.

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Screen grab from VICE News video

VICE has obtained helmet cam footage recovered from an ISIS fighter after an intense battle with Kurdish forces in northern Iraq, 30 miles outside of Mosul. The video, which offers a visceral, first-person view of heavy combat, ends with the man who filmed it being shot and, according to VICE, killed.

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Photo by Romina Peñate

The first time I set foot in Iraq was as an Army grunt in 2004. Like most war experiences, it was an intense one, undoubtedly altering my life trajectory. Mortal combat, unlike most undertakings, has a transformational effect on the mind. In fact, almost any veteran who has ever squeezed the trigger of a rifle or ducked a whizzing bullet in a firefight can draw a thick line across the course of his or her life dividing before combat and after combat. Oftentimes that demarcation happens without notice, almost subconsciously.

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