It’s hard to fully understand war when many of us live in a place where it isn’t tangible. We see the images from the media, we read about it on our Facebook feeds, and like the millions of bits of information that crosses our paths daily, we process it and move on with our lives. For most of us, war and conflict are worlds away and rarely does it directly affect us or compel us to do anything but accept what we see at face value.

The conflict between Syria and Iraq has recently escalated before our eyes. We read snippets of the horrors that people have had to endure at the hands of rebel militias, and the jihadists – such as ISIS. But do we know who is fighting whom and why? Do we even care?

Photographer Joey L, whose work you’ve seen many times here on SLR Lounge, recently took a trip to photograph the conflict in Iraq. Joey’s passion is traveling the world and finding people and places to challenge our world view, and this project is no different.

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[REWIND: ‘HOLY MEN’ – A DIVINE PORTRAIT SERIES BY JOEY L.]

After doing much research, Joey decided to “uncover the truth, or at least to better understand the nuances behind the headlines” of the Kurdish guerrilla groups and fly to Iraq to see for himself the people whose lives were directly affected by this war.

Portrait photography has a strange way of humanizing even the most distant of situations, and that was my goal with this project.

According to Joey’s blog, the Kurdish people have no country of their own and are fighting to protect their independence. These people were the ones Joey focused on in this personal project, titled, ‘Guerrilla Fighters of Kurdistan.‘ Joey stayed with the Kurdish for two weeks and in that time, witnessed and photographed, “liberated villages…refugee camps, border crossings, clashes with ISIS, and besieged villages.” He brings back his story, told in words, photographs and footage from his GoPro, as seen below.

You can read about Joey L‘s experience and see the extraordinary portraits he made of the Kurdish on his blog here.

[Via iso1200/Joey L ].