Pre-Islamic State: Traveling into Iraqi Kurdistan

By TAMARA BARAAZ
June 8, 2015 11:19

Recognized only as ‘Northern Iraq,’ the Kurds nonetheless carved out an autonomous region – one that in summer 2014 was just beginning to understand the threat represented by the terror movement.




Erbil

Downtown Erbil with the Assyrian fortress in the background.. (photo credit: TAMARA BARAAZ)

July 2014 brought with it the longest and possibly hardest Ramadan in living memory.

The desert wind was blowing through Iraq at a heat of 45º, and people wandered the streets like zombies. The scorching temperature was not the only thing ushered in by the desert gusts: Islamic State, the terror organization competing with al-Qaida for the title of most extreme group of the year, was on the warpath.

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