Getty photographer Carl Court saw the devastation late last week while working 35 miles south of the city. "It was apocalyptic," he says. "It sounds cliché, but it was." Court immediately sought something to provide a sense of scale. As if on cue, a shoeless young boy on a bicycle rolled up, abruptly stopped, and simply stared. "He seemed to be more interested in what I was doing than in the plumes of smoke billowing behind him," he says.
The oil field sits just outside Qayyarah, a small town that ISIS controlled until Iraqi forces advanced on Mosul two months ago. Islamic State fighters torched the oil and a nearby sulphur plant, creating a smokescreen for their retreat. And a vision of hell for the 20,000 people left in their wake.