1st Place, Alessio Romenzi, Italy
"We are taking no prisoners"
Series Description: The offensive to liberate Sirte, self-proclaimed capital of the so-called Islamic State in Libya, was launched in May.
It took seven months of fighting, five hundred American airstrikes, seven hundred soldiers dead and more than three thousand injured in the Libyan army ranks, to declare the city finally free.
The offensive has been slow and fierce. The Libyan soldiers were mostly civilians with no military training. The leaders of the operation also considered it their priority to save the civilians (women and children) trapped in Sirte. But in the last weeks of the offensive, the distinction between civilians and militants became vague; some women, allegedly the wives of ISIS militants, blew themselves up while Libyan soldiers were trying to save them.
Today Sirte is a ghostly place.
No one knows exactly how many ISIS militants were in Sirte at the start of the offensive, nor how many of them have been killed. What is certain is that the Libyan soldiers have taken no prisoners, and today in Sirte there are dozens of corpses buried in the rubble.