The mission of ERD (Emergency Response Division), turned from small to big after the entry of ISIS to Al-Anbar province in Iraq (2014). They fought real battles in Tikrit, Bije, Diala, Al Faluja and Al Mosul (2014).
ERD consists of three units: reconnaissance, snipers, and task force. Captain Omar Nazar is the head of Task Force and Corporal Haider Ali works in the same branch. Their squads were trained by the coalition forces, including various types of raids, as well as day and night operations.
Their mission is to achieve special operations against ISIS on the information provided by reconnaissance (intelligence branch). Omar and Haidar believe that they’re fighting against the most fierce enemy in the world — ISIS. But they are confident because they have returned victors after every battle, and inflicted huge losses on ISIS’ ranks.
Ali Arkady received the authorization from the Commander in Chief of the ERD forces (Col. Thamer Mohammed Ismail — battle name Abu Turab) in order to follow these forces to work on a photo story and a documentary. Arkady followed them from battles in Tikrit, Falluja and ultimately the ongoing battle for Mosul.
What began for Ali as a positive story about Shia and Sunni Iraqi soldiers fighting on the same side against a mutual enemy, turned into a horrific journey that included torture, rape, killing and thieving of innocent Iraqi civilians by the ERD.
There are hundred of images, tens of videos and audio tapes documenting these war crimes available.
“We have made mistakes, but they are all directed toward the enemy, ISIS, and I’m proud of those mistakes,” said the leader of an Iraqi unit linked to torture accusations.
Over many months, the photographer Ali Arkady bore witness to the brutality of our allies in Iraq. Now, as victory is declared over Isis in Mosul, he risks his life to reveal the truth. Matthew Campbell reports