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What Islamic State Left Behind

As its self-styled "caliphate" crumbles, militants from the group Islamic State (IS) are being driven out of areas of Iraq and Syria by local and international fighting forces. What they leave behind is a trail of crude weapons and evidence of the human misery they inflicted.

Iraqi soldiers inspect a captured vehicle designed for a suicide car bombing in Mosul, in northern Iraq. Crudely armored vehicles like this are packed with explosives and can be extremely difficult to stop when driven straight at coalition battle positions.
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Iraqi soldiers inspect a captured vehicle designed for a suicide car bombing in Mosul, in northern Iraq. Crudely armored vehicles like this are packed with explosives and can be extremely difficult to stop when driven straight at coalition battle positions.

An Iraqi soldier with a sword he found in Mosul like those used by IS fighters for killing captives.
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An Iraqi soldier with a sword he found in Mosul like those used by IS fighters for killing captives.

An Iraqi soldier inside a captured IS weapon-making site in Fallujah, Iraq. Reuters reports that weapons such as these improvised mortar rounds are made to strict guidelines that are standardized across the territories in which IS operates.
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An Iraqi soldier inside a captured IS weapon-making site in Fallujah, Iraq. Reuters reports that weapons such as these improvised mortar rounds are made to strict guidelines that are standardized across the territories in which IS operates.

A homemade IS mortar in a northern Iraqi town liberated by the Iraqi Army. Reuters reports, "Mortar rounds manufactured in one part of IS forces' territory are calibrated to fit mortar tubes produced in facilities located elsewhere." 
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A homemade IS mortar in a northern Iraqi town liberated by the Iraqi Army. Reuters reports, "Mortar rounds manufactured in one part of IS forces' territory are calibrated to fit mortar tubes produced in facilities located elsewhere." 

An Iraqi soldier carries a radio-controlled aircraft left behind by retreating IS fighters in Mosul. Small, commercially available craft like this have been loaded with explosives and used to launch airborne attacks on coalition forces.
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An Iraqi soldier carries a radio-controlled aircraft left behind by retreating IS fighters in Mosul. Small, commercially available craft like this have been loaded with explosives and used to launch airborne attacks on coalition forces.

U.S. Special Operations forces with what appears to be a Skywalker X8 drone, commercially available online. A drone like this was recorded loaded with explosives in a January 2017 IS propaganda video attacking coalition forces with what the Washington Post described as "pinpoint accuracy."
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U.S. Special Operations forces with what appears to be a Skywalker X8 drone, commercially available online. A drone like this was recorded loaded with explosives in a January 2017 IS propaganda video attacking coalition forces with what the Washington Post described as "pinpoint accuracy."

Explosives left behind at a school in Fallujah, Iraq, by IS militants.
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Explosives left behind at a school in Fallujah, Iraq, by IS militants.

An Iraqi soldier walks next to a wall painted with the signature black flag used by IS militants in northern Iraq and elsewhere. The Arabic texts in the white banner at the top of the flag and inside the white circle contains the two-part Shahada creed associated with Sunni Islam.
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An Iraqi soldier walks next to a wall painted with the signature black flag used by IS militants in northern Iraq and elsewhere. The Arabic texts in the white banner at the top of the flag and inside the white circle contains the two-part Shahada creed associated with Sunni Islam.

Homemade explosives left behind in Homs, Syria, photographed soon after IS fighters were driven from the town by the Syrian Army.
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Homemade explosives left behind in Homs, Syria, photographed soon after IS fighters were driven from the town by the Syrian Army.

An administrative building formerly used by IS gunmen in the Syrian town of Al-Rai, near Aleppo.
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An administrative building formerly used by IS gunmen in the Syrian town of Al-Rai, near Aleppo.

A billboard with Koranic verses is seen in the ancient city of Palmyra. Syrian and Russian forces retook the city from IS in March 2016, but the group seized the historic capital again in December. Many of the site's most treasured monuments have now been destroyed. 
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A billboard with Koranic verses is seen in the ancient city of Palmyra. Syrian and Russian forces retook the city from IS in March 2016, but the group seized the historic capital again in December. Many of the site's most treasured monuments have now been destroyed. 

A member of the Iraqi security forces stands next to a tunnel used by IS militants during a battle near Mosul. Many of IS's strongholds are honeycombed with tunnels, allowing the group's fighters to disappear from one position and pop up elsewhere.
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A member of the Iraqi security forces stands next to a tunnel used by IS militants during a battle near Mosul. Many of IS's strongholds are honeycombed with tunnels, allowing the group's fighters to disappear from one position and pop up elsewhere.

Blankets and sealed windows at a location in Mosul, Iraq, used by IS militants as a women's prison.
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Blankets and sealed windows at a location in Mosul, Iraq, used by IS militants as a women's prison.

Handcuffs are pictured inside a prison that Syrian rebel fighters say was used by IS militants in Manbij, Aleppo.
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Handcuffs are pictured inside a prison that Syrian rebel fighters say was used by IS militants in Manbij, Aleppo.

Blindfolds inside the prison in Manbij. 
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Blindfolds inside the prison in Manbij. 

Captured IS weapons near Fallujah, Iraq. 
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Captured IS weapons near Fallujah, Iraq. 

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