Achilleas Zavalis is a photographer covering conﬂict and post conﬂict issues. Since 2012 he has been covering the circles of violence in the Middle East, documenting the civil war in Syria, the subsequent Refugee Crisis in Europe, and the rise and downfall of ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
Final days of the Caliphate
Following years of bloody civil war in Syria and chronic instability in Iraq, ISIS emerged as a powerful force in both countries and managed in a very short time to take over a vast area, roughly the size of Britain. Implementing Sharia Law in the areas they controlled and proclaiming the creation of a Caliphate in June 2014, the group dominated every aspect of life of the roughly eight-million civilians under its control through brutal force, indoctrination and the provision of services to those who obey. The Iraqi government, Kurdish forces and Shia militias started to push back from the East in late 2015, followed in 2016 by another military front, spearheaded by the Syrian Democratic Forces that started pushing from the West. By February 2019, ISIS was declared defeated and cornered in the small town of Baghuz in Syria. Surrounded by all sides, the ones who refused to surrender are making their last stance. Amongst them, thousands of women and children who once supported the powerful organisation, are now surrendering to the Syrian Democratic Forces. Meanwhile the organisation is re-emerging in both countries, this time by way of sleeper cells that utilise hit and run tactics, terrorising again the civilian population.