A boy gets his skin treated for sulfur burns at a hospital in Qayyarah, about 31 miles (50 km) south of Mosul, Iraq, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)
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The smoke from fires lit by Daesh (ISIS) militants to provide cover from airstrikes has painted the northern Iraqi sky black, providing a dramatic backdrop for the Mosul offensive. The use of smoke in warfare is likely as old as war itself but the masks and technology available to Iraqi forces in this conflict leave civilians, especially children, the most vulnerable.As forces closed in on their Mosul bastion, Daesh set fire to oil wells, torched tires inside the city and set up a defense system around it that includes burning oil trenches to blind their enemy's air and satellite assets.In the area of Al-Tina, south of Mosul, billows of white smoke from a sulphur plant torched by Daesh were brought rolling in by the wind, mixed at times with black plumes from blazing oil wells.Two civilians are confirmed to have died from inhaling the sulphur fumes.Civilians living on the edges of Mosul in areas not yet retaken by Iraqi forces are also affected and have limited options for treatment.
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