When the sheep turn black, war's toxic legacy can no longer be ignored | Erik Solheim
The battle for Mosul has left the city caked in soot and shrouded in smog. When will the world realise that the environment is not merely a silent victim of war?
The smoke that billowed from the burning oil fields was so thick it blocked out the sun. By the time I reached Qayyarah, where Islamic State fighters had set fire to 19 oil wells, a film of black soot had settled over the Iraqi town like toxic snow. Even the sheep had turned black.
Pools of thick oil ran in the streets. In the sky above the town, the black smog mixed with white fumes from a nearby sulphur plant that the jihadists had also set on fire as they retreated. The plant burned for months, spewing as much sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere as a small volcanic eruption. Hundreds of people were hospitalised.