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Serbian Photographer On The Front Lines Of History

As Iraqi and Kurdish forces fight to liberate Mosul from IS militants, Serbian photojournalist Goran Tomasevic is again on the front lines. We look back on some of the most powerful images the veteran photographer has captured over nearly a quarter of a century covering the world's conflicts.


A detained man accused of being an Islamic State fighter is pictured east of Mosul on October 26, 2016. Tomasevic has been photographing conflict since the Yugoslav wars of 1991-2001. The Serbian photographer recalls that during the 90s, the biggest news stories in the world were "at my door, so that's how I started."
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A detained man accused of being an Islamic State fighter is pictured east of Mosul on October 26, 2016. Tomasevic has been photographing conflict since the Yugoslav wars of 1991-2001. The Serbian photographer recalls that during the 90s, the biggest news stories in the world were "at my door, so that's how I started."

Fighters of forces allied with the Libya's UN-backed government fire a rocket at Islamic State fighters in Sirte, August 2016. 
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Fighters of forces allied with the Libya's UN-backed government fire a rocket at Islamic State fighters in Sirte, August 2016. 

A rebel fighter fires through a hole in a wall at Syrian army soldiers in January 2013. In a Reuters interview the veteran war photographer said that "when a combat situation starts for me there is no way back.... I would be ashamed of myself for not going to the end."
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A rebel fighter fires through a hole in a wall at Syrian army soldiers in January 2013. In a Reuters interview the veteran war photographer said that "when a combat situation starts for me there is no way back.... I would be ashamed of myself for not going to the end."

A cattle herder washes himself with cow urine in South Sudan in January 2011. Many of Tomasevic's 14,000 images in Reuters' archive are related to travel and daily life, but the Belgrade-born photographer's most iconic work deals with capturing conflict.
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A cattle herder washes himself with cow urine in South Sudan in January 2011. Many of Tomasevic's 14,000 images in Reuters' archive are related to travel and daily life, but the Belgrade-born photographer's most iconic work deals with capturing conflict.

Armed police search Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Center during a September 2013 attack carried out by Islamic militants that left 71 people dead. In the confusion of the early minutes of the attack, Tomasevic joined a small group of police and civilians who entered the mall, rescuing scores of trapped civilians and engaging in gun battles with the attackers.
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Armed police search Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Center during a September 2013 attack carried out by Islamic militants that left 71 people dead. In the confusion of the early minutes of the attack, Tomasevic joined a small group of police and civilians who entered the mall, rescuing scores of trapped civilians and engaging in gun battles with the attackers.

A Kenyan policemen after being shot by an attacker inside the mall. The man described watching his intestines bubbling out of the wound. After taking this picture, Tomasevic helped the man to safety. "I was running with him," the photographer recalled in a documentary on the attack. "He started firing his AK by accident between our legs, so it was a little difficult, you know."
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A Kenyan policemen after being shot by an attacker inside the mall. The man described watching his intestines bubbling out of the wound. After taking this picture, Tomasevic helped the man to safety. "I was running with him," the photographer recalled in a documentary on the attack. "He started firing his AK by accident between our legs, so it was a little difficult, you know."

A Free Syrian Army fighter fires a rocket-propelled grenade during heavy fighting in Damascus, January 2013.
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A Free Syrian Army fighter fires a rocket-propelled grenade during heavy fighting in Damascus, January 2013.

Moments after firing the RPG, the same rebels are caught in a hail of shrapnel and concrete after a tank shell slammed into the wall above them.
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Moments after firing the RPG, the same rebels are caught in a hail of shrapnel and concrete after a tank shell slammed into the wall above them.

A Syrian rebel fighter screams after being wounded by shrapnel from an explosion in August 2012. Moments before, the rebel had been using his knife (seen on the floor) to serve lunch with a group of fellow fighters.
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A Syrian rebel fighter screams after being wounded by shrapnel from an explosion in August 2012. Moments before, the rebel had been using his knife (seen on the floor) to serve lunch with a group of fellow fighters.

During the 2011 conflict that followed mass protests against Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, a rebel fighter points his gun at a suspected Qaddafi supporter.
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During the 2011 conflict that followed mass protests against Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, a rebel fighter points his gun at a suspected Qaddafi supporter.

Rebels question an African man in Libya in March 2011. Tomasevic later told The New York Times that "when I photographed a young man suspected of being a mercenary because of his skin color, I felt terrified for him."
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Rebels question an African man in Libya in March 2011. Tomasevic later told The New York Times that "when I photographed a young man suspected of being a mercenary because of his skin color, I felt terrified for him."

Vehicles belonging to forces loyal to Libyan leader Qaddafi explode after a coalition air strike in March 2011. "After [this picture] I went closer," he told the British Journal of Photography. "There was another explosion which knocked me down but the picture was not [as good as] this one."
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Vehicles belonging to forces loyal to Libyan leader Qaddafi explode after a coalition air strike in March 2011. "After [this picture] I went closer," he told the British Journal of Photography. "There was another explosion which knocked me down but the picture was not [as good as] this one."

Shrapnel narrowly misses rebels during fighting in Libya in March 2011. The deeply religious Tomasevic says: "I pray a lot, so that keeps me safe."
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Shrapnel narrowly misses rebels during fighting in Libya in March 2011. The deeply religious Tomasevic says: "I pray a lot, so that keeps me safe."

A rebel fighter in Libya with an ostrich destined for the rebels' dinner plates, September 2011.
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A rebel fighter in Libya with an ostrich destined for the rebels' dinner plates, September 2011.

A tank belonging to forces loyal to Qaddafi explodes after coalition air strikes in March 2011. Tomasevic says the purpose of his work is getting to the front line of history "to tell the truth, [only with the truth] can you do something to stop certain things."
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A tank belonging to forces loyal to Qaddafi explodes after coalition air strikes in March 2011. Tomasevic says the purpose of his work is getting to the front line of history "to tell the truth, [only with the truth] can you do something to stop certain things."

Anti-Qaddafi rebels raiding a government weapons and ammunition compound, September 2011.
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Anti-Qaddafi rebels raiding a government weapons and ammunition compound, September 2011.

Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim women at the door of a shrine in Baghdad on March 13, 2003. A week later, a barrage of U.S. cruise missiles blasted into buildings throughout Baghdad, marking the beginning of the Iraq War.
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Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim women at the door of a shrine in Baghdad on March 13, 2003. A week later, a barrage of U.S. cruise missiles blasted into buildings throughout Baghdad, marking the beginning of the Iraq War.

An Iraqi man throws stones at a statue of Saddam Hussein on April 9, 2003. The day before this photograph was taken a U.S. plane had attacked the Al-Jazeera offices in Baghdad, killing Tomasevic's colleague and friend Tareq Ayoub. Recalling the day he took the iconic images of the statue being toppled, Tomasevic said: "I didn't care, I just wanted to finish the job and go home."
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An Iraqi man throws stones at a statue of Saddam Hussein on April 9, 2003. The day before this photograph was taken a U.S. plane had attacked the Al-Jazeera offices in Baghdad, killing Tomasevic's colleague and friend Tareq Ayoub. Recalling the day he took the iconic images of the statue being toppled, Tomasevic said: "I didn't care, I just wanted to finish the job and go home."

A U.S. Marine is knocked from his position by a Taliban bullet in Afghanistan. Tomasevic wrote that the wall seemed to "explode from an incoming round and [he] was down. I dropped my cameras and jumped toward him. I felt his head and neck expecting to find blood, but there was none. He was breathing, but unconscious.... It was his lucky day. He hadn't been hit or seriously hurt."
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A U.S. Marine is knocked from his position by a Taliban bullet in Afghanistan. Tomasevic wrote that the wall seemed to "explode from an incoming round and [he] was down. I dropped my cameras and jumped toward him. I felt his head and neck expecting to find blood, but there was none. He was breathing, but unconscious.... It was his lucky day. He hadn't been hit or seriously hurt."

Tomasevic working in Libya, March 2011. "I don't have any problem stepping back into my normal life; not at all," the photographer told the BBC in 2011. "I just go out, eat a couple of steaks and drink a lot of beer. I check out the football and I'm happy. I'm not one of the photographers who have bad dreams, but I have memories. You learn something from each of these memories."
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Tomasevic working in Libya, March 2011. "I don't have any problem stepping back into my normal life; not at all," the photographer told the BBC in 2011. "I just go out, eat a couple of steaks and drink a lot of beer. I check out the football and I'm happy. I'm not one of the photographers who have bad dreams, but I have memories. You learn something from each of these memories."

Libyan forces allied with the UN-backed government fire weapons during a battle with Islamic State fighters in Libya, July 2016. On this assignment Tomasevic chose to go without the cumbersome body armor he usually wears. "Calculating the risks, I just believe that the body armor really just slows me down," he later said.
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Libyan forces allied with the UN-backed government fire weapons during a battle with Islamic State fighters in Libya, July 2016. On this assignment Tomasevic chose to go without the cumbersome body armor he usually wears. "Calculating the risks, I just believe that the body armor really just slows me down," he later said.

A Sudan People's Liberation Army soldier, July 2011. Tomasevic is currently chief photographer for Reuters' East Africa bureau.
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A Sudan People's Liberation Army soldier, July 2011. Tomasevic is currently chief photographer for Reuters' East Africa bureau.

A soldier looks for warplanes during an air strike by the Sudanese air force that killed three people near Bentiu, South Sudan, in April 2012.
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A soldier looks for warplanes during an air strike by the Sudanese air force that killed three people near Bentiu, South Sudan, in April 2012.

A woman shoots an AK-47 rifle as she celebrates news of the withdrawal of Libyan leader Qaddafi's forces from Benghazi on March 19, 2011.
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A woman shoots an AK-47 rifle as she celebrates news of the withdrawal of Libyan leader Qaddafi's forces from Benghazi on March 19, 2011.

An opposition supporter protects herself from stones raining down during mass protests near Tahrir Square in Cairo in February 2011. The Egyptian protests were part of what would come to be called the "Arab Spring."
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An opposition supporter protects herself from stones raining down during mass protests near Tahrir Square in Cairo in February 2011. The Egyptian protests were part of what would come to be called the "Arab Spring."

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