Hussam Matti knelt to the ground, grabbed two fistfuls of brown-gray sand and poured it over his head. The grains mixed with the sweat on his brow as he stood up, smiled and threw up his arms.
“This is the earth of Bartella,” he shouted. “This is our land.”
Government forces earlier this week recaptured this Assyrian Christian-dominated town, just eight miles east of Mosul and a crucial gateway to Islamic State’s most important stronghold in Iraq. But on Saturday, the soundtrack of the war — the clatter of gunfire, the powerful booms of artillery and airstrikes — could still be heard nearby.
Skirmishes also continued...