A new exhibition at the Imperial War Museum North to mark the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War features photographs taken by award-winning British war photographer Sean Smith.
‘Iraq: Photographs by Sean Smith' features images taken before, during and after the invasion by US-led coalition troops in March 2003.
They focus on how the war affected and shaped the lives of ordinary Iraqi people during the military operation.
Smith arrived in Iraq in January 2003, on assignment for the Guardian Newspaper and was in Baghdad when the invasion began. Since then, he has returned to the country a number of times.
This image shows UD soldiers watching for snipers as their colleagues deal with a burning vehicle blown up by an improvised explosive device (IED).
Six soldiers and an interpreter were killed in the attack.
– Sean Smith
Usually when these things happen there are snipers still in the area who will then take shots at anyone who comes to assist. There was a question of whether the people that had let off the device were still shooting in the area.
In 2005, as the first multi-party elections in fifty years took place, insurgents tried to smuggle explosives into Baghdad to disrupt the voting. US Marines advanced through towns in the region, including Ubaydi, searching for insurgent cells.
– Sean Smith
All men of military age were detained. They had material sprayed on their hands to reveal whether they had handled explosives or gunpowder. Families were split up and loudspeakers were barking commands. Some of the detainees came back and some did not.
This image won Photograph of the year at the 2006 Press Photographer's Year awards.
It shows US Marines taking detainees in for questioning as part Operation 'Steel Curtain', which aimed to break up insurgent cells located on the Syria Border.
Ten years on, Smith said of the conflict:
Any war is brutalising for people either side. I'm not a pacificist but I think you need to think very carefully.
Before the outset, the Iraq War was doomed to failure. Each time I went back to the country it was inevitably unravelled. The invasion has had a damaging effect in America and the UK, not just in Iraq.
Is the world a better place post invasion? Is the threat of terror over?
It will haunt everyone for years to come.
- Iraq: Photographs by Sean Smith, will be displayed the Imperial War Museum North until 2nd February 2014.