How did you come to be in Mosul during the battle to retake the city?
"I'm based in Istanbul, Turkey, and have been covering the region for the past eight years. So, when Mosul fell and ISIS appeared on the scene, it was obviously one of the biggest stories in the region. I positioned myself there before the beginning of the battle to retake Mosul, which officially started in October 2016. Initially I was doing my own thing, then the New York Times picked me up and we started working together in January 2017."
How did you get access to the front line?
"I was embedded within the Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF), who were in many ways the spearhead of the ground forces in Mosul. You could come in and out on a daily basis but, as a documentary photographer, I knew I wanted to be with the guys on the ground. Not many people were embedding and staying inside Mosul with the troops. It was very hard to get the permission to do it, and it was incredibly dangerous, so most news organisations didn't really let their staff do that. But I was able to bend the rules a little bit to find a way."
What was it like to work in that situation?
"It was a huge challenge and I was learning as I went, because this was a new level of brutality and combat for me. I would be with the troops as they were moving into areas that were still under ISIS' control, and maybe only a couple of phases back from the actual advancing units. I would have air strikes landing less than 100-150 metres ahead of where I was. It was really hard to comprehend and hard to capture in a photograph."