A year in pictures: The most powerful images from the Middle East in 2016

Published December 29th, 2016 - 15:28 GMT

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2016 was quite a year for the Middle East: The war in Syria grinds on into its sixth year, and conflict from Yemen to Libya continues to destabilize the region and drive families from their homes. While Daesh lost some major ground in Iraq and Syria, lone wolf attackers and Daesh cells stepped up bombings and shootings in Europe. But amid the turmoil, photographers also managed to capture moments of beauty, humanity and simple pleasures. Here are 14 of the year's most memorable images. 

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Aleppo’s exodus: Syrian residents fleeing violence gather at a checkpoint, manned by pro-government forces, in the Maysaloun neighborhood of Aleppo on December 8, 2016.
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Image 1 of 15:  1 / 15Aleppo’s exodus: Syrian residents fleeing violence gather at a checkpoint, manned by pro-government forces, in the Maysaloun neighborhood of Aleppo on December 8, 2016.

(Source: AFP/Youssef Karwashan)

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Scrapping laws that protect rapists: Activists from the Lebanese NGO Abaad (Dimensions), a resource center for gender equality, dressed as brides and wearing bandages hold a protest in downtown Beirut on December 6, 2016, against article 522 in the Lebanese penal code.
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Image 2 of 15:  2 / 15Scrapping laws that protect rapists: Activists from the Lebanese NGO Abaad (Dimensions), a resource center for gender equality, dressed as brides and wearing bandages hold a protest in downtown Beirut on December 6, 2016, against article 522 in the Lebanese penal code.

(Source: AFP/Patrick Baz)

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Egyptians gather at a candle light vigil for the victims of the EgyptAir plane crash that killed all 66 people on board when it went down in the Mediterranean.
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Image 3 of 15:  3 / 15Egyptians gather at a candle light vigil for the victims of the EgyptAir plane crash that killed all 66 people on board when it went down in the Mediterranean.

(Source: AFP)

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Damned if you stay, damned if you go: A young Syrian boy sits injured in the back of an ambulance after being pulled from the rubble by civil defense workers following a reported government airstrike in eastern Aleppo.
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Image 4 of 15:  4 / 15Damned if you stay, damned if you go: A young Syrian boy sits injured in the back of an ambulance after being pulled from the rubble by civil defense workers following a reported government airstrike in eastern Aleppo.

(Source: Aleppo Media Center)

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Turkey’s descent into war: A woman and her children stand in the ruins of battle-damaged house in the Kurdish town of Silopi, in southeastern Turkey, near the border with Iraq on January 19, 2016.
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Image 5 of 15:  5 / 15Turkey’s descent into war: A woman and her children stand in the ruins of battle-damaged house in the Kurdish town of Silopi, in southeastern Turkey, near the border with Iraq on January 19, 2016.

(Source: AFP/Ilyas Akengin)

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The debris of displacement: Thousands of discarded life jackets and plastic boats sits on a hillside on the Greek island of Lesbos.
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Image 6 of 15:  6 / 15The debris of displacement: Thousands of discarded life jackets and plastic boats sits on a hillside on the Greek island of Lesbos.

(Source: AFP/Aris Messinis)

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A failed coup: Turkish soldiers pose with a flag at Istanbul’s Taksim Square during an unsuccessful bid to topple the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
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Image 7 of 15:  7 / 15A failed coup: Turkish soldiers pose with a flag at Istanbul’s Taksim Square during an unsuccessful bid to topple the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

(Source: AFP/Ozan Kose)

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Palestinian men practice street workouts, using the rubble of war-torn Gaza as their gym.
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Image 8 of 15:  8 / 15Palestinian men practice street workouts, using the rubble of war-torn Gaza as their gym.

(Source: AFP/Mohammed Abed)

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Before and after: A pre-war snapshot shows the devastation to the ancient city of Palmyra after being recaptured from Daesh by Syrian troops.
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Image 9 of 15:  9 / 15Before and after: A pre-war snapshot shows the devastation to the ancient city of Palmyra after being recaptured from Daesh by Syrian troops.

(Source: AFP/Joseph Eid)

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Displaced Iraqi families are reunited after fleeing violence in Mosul.
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Image 10 of 15:  10 / 15Displaced Iraqi families are reunited after fleeing violence in Mosul.

(Source: AFP)

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Iraqi forces take part in an operation against Daesh militants to retake Mosul on October 19, 2016.
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Image 11 of 15:  11 / 15Iraqi forces take part in an operation against Daesh militants to retake Mosul on October 19, 2016.

(Source: AFP/Yasin Akgul)

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Bombings strike Brussels: Nidhi Chaphekar, a flight attendant, sits injured and in shock in the aftermath of the bombing at Brussels Airport. The three bombings, claimed by Daesh, killed 32 and injured more than 300.
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Image 12 of 15:  12 / 15Bombings strike Brussels: Nidhi Chaphekar, a flight attendant, sits injured and in shock in the aftermath of the bombing at Brussels Airport. The three bombings, claimed by Daesh, killed 32 and injured more than 300.

(Source: Twitter)

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This picture taken on December 19, 2016 shows Andrei Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Ankara, lying on the floor after being shot by Mevlut Altintas (R) during an attack at a public event in Ankara.
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Image 13 of 15:  13 / 15This picture taken on December 19, 2016 shows Andrei Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Ankara, lying on the floor after being shot by Mevlut Altintas (R) during an attack at a public event in Ankara.

(Source: AFP/Hasim Kilic)

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Lebanon finally has a president: Michel Aoun was elected as the new Lebanese president on October 31, 2016, after 46 legislative sessions.
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Image 14 of 15:  14 / 15Lebanon finally has a president: Michel Aoun was elected as the new Lebanese president on October 31, 2016, after 46 legislative sessions.

(Source: AFP/Anwar Amro)

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Three Palestinian women sit in the spray from the sea in Gaza City.
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Image 15 of 15:  15 / 15Three Palestinian women sit in the spray from the sea in Gaza City.

(Source: AFP/Mohammed Abed)

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1

Aleppo’s exodus: Syrian residents fleeing violence gather at a checkpoint, manned by pro-government forces, in the Maysaloun neighborhood of Aleppo on December 8, 2016.

Image 1 of 15Aleppo’s exodus: Syrian residents fleeing violence gather at a checkpoint, manned by pro-government forces, in the Maysaloun neighborhood of Aleppo on December 8, 2016.

(Source: AFP/Youssef Karwashan)

2

Scrapping laws that protect rapists: Activists from the Lebanese NGO Abaad (Dimensions), a resource center for gender equality, dressed as brides and wearing bandages hold a protest in downtown Beirut on December 6, 2016, against article 522 in the Lebanese penal code.

Image 2 of 15Scrapping laws that protect rapists: Activists from the Lebanese NGO Abaad (Dimensions), a resource center for gender equality, dressed as brides and wearing bandages hold a protest in downtown Beirut on December 6, 2016, against article 522 in the Lebanese penal code.

(Source: AFP/Patrick Baz)

3

Egyptians gather at a candle light vigil for the victims of the EgyptAir plane crash that killed all 66 people on board when it went down in the Mediterranean.

Image 3 of 15Egyptians gather at a candle light vigil for the victims of the EgyptAir plane crash that killed all 66 people on board when it went down in the Mediterranean.

(Source: AFP)

4

Damned if you stay, damned if you go: A young Syrian boy sits injured in the back of an ambulance after being pulled from the rubble by civil defense workers following a reported government airstrike in eastern Aleppo.

Image 4 of 15Damned if you stay, damned if you go: A young Syrian boy sits injured in the back of an ambulance after being pulled from the rubble by civil defense workers following a reported government airstrike in eastern Aleppo.

(Source: Aleppo Media Center)

5

Turkey’s descent into war: A woman and her children stand in the ruins of battle-damaged house in the Kurdish town of Silopi, in southeastern Turkey, near the border with Iraq on January 19, 2016.

Image 5 of 15Turkey’s descent into war: A woman and her children stand in the ruins of battle-damaged house in the Kurdish town of Silopi, in southeastern Turkey, near the border with Iraq on January 19, 2016.

(Source: AFP/Ilyas Akengin)

6

The debris of displacement: Thousands of discarded life jackets and plastic boats sits on a hillside on the Greek island of Lesbos.

Image 6 of 15The debris of displacement: Thousands of discarded life jackets and plastic boats sits on a hillside on the Greek island of Lesbos.

(Source: AFP/Aris Messinis)

7

A failed coup: Turkish soldiers pose with a flag at Istanbul’s Taksim Square during an unsuccessful bid to topple the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Image 7 of 15A failed coup: Turkish soldiers pose with a flag at Istanbul’s Taksim Square during an unsuccessful bid to topple the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

(Source: AFP/Ozan Kose)

8

Palestinian men practice street workouts, using the rubble of war-torn Gaza as their gym.

Image 8 of 15Palestinian men practice street workouts, using the rubble of war-torn Gaza as their gym.

(Source: AFP/Mohammed Abed)

9

Before and after: A pre-war snapshot shows the devastation to the ancient city of Palmyra after being recaptured from Daesh by Syrian troops.

Image 9 of 15Before and after: A pre-war snapshot shows the devastation to the ancient city of Palmyra after being recaptured from Daesh by Syrian troops.

(Source: AFP/Joseph Eid)

10

Displaced Iraqi families are reunited after fleeing violence in Mosul.

Image 10 of 15Displaced Iraqi families are reunited after fleeing violence in Mosul.

(Source: AFP)

11

Iraqi forces take part in an operation against Daesh militants to retake Mosul on October 19, 2016.

Image 11 of 15Iraqi forces take part in an operation against Daesh militants to retake Mosul on October 19, 2016.

(Source: AFP/Yasin Akgul)

12

Bombings strike Brussels: Nidhi Chaphekar, a flight attendant, sits injured and in shock in the aftermath of the bombing at Brussels Airport. The three bombings, claimed by Daesh, killed 32 and injured more than 300.

Image 12 of 15Bombings strike Brussels: Nidhi Chaphekar, a flight attendant, sits injured and in shock in the aftermath of the bombing at Brussels Airport. The three bombings, claimed by Daesh, killed 32 and injured more than 300.

(Source: Twitter)

13

This picture taken on December 19, 2016 shows Andrei Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Ankara, lying on the floor after being shot by Mevlut Altintas (R) during an attack at a public event in Ankara.

Image 13 of 15This picture taken on December 19, 2016 shows Andrei Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Ankara, lying on the floor after being shot by Mevlut Altintas (R) during an attack at a public event in Ankara.

(Source: AFP/Hasim Kilic)

14

Lebanon finally has a president: Michel Aoun was elected as the new Lebanese president on October 31, 2016, after 46 legislative sessions.

Image 14 of 15Lebanon finally has a president: Michel Aoun was elected as the new Lebanese president on October 31, 2016, after 46 legislative sessions.

(Source: AFP/Anwar Amro)

15

Three Palestinian women sit in the spray from the sea in Gaza City.

Image 15 of 15Three Palestinian women sit in the spray from the sea in Gaza City.

(Source: AFP/Mohammed Abed)

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