Kurdish Peshmerga fighters are separated from Islamic State extremists by only short distances in some places around Mosul in northern Iraq, but there has not been heavy fighting recently or any changes in the front lines. Alice Fordham/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Alice Fordham/NPR

Karim Wasfi, conductor of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra, at his home in Baghdad, has been playing his cello at the sites of explosive attacks in Baghdad. Ahmed Qusay for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Ahmed Qusay for NPR

An Islamic State fighter holds holds a rifle and the group's flag shortly after capturing the northern Iraqi city of Mosul in June 2014. Dozens of Americans have been accused of planning or heading off to the Middle East to join the group. Their individual cases are on the chart below. Reuters/Landov hide caption

itoggle caption Reuters/Landov

Iraqi anti-terrorism forces patrol in central Ramadi, Iraq, on April 18. A month later, the city fell to the self-declared Iraqi State. Ayman Oghanna, a journalist who was embedded with Iraqi Special Forces in the city, says the Special Forces are capable precision fighters — but are being asked to fill the role of an entire military. AP hide caption

itoggle caption AP

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates at the Boy Scouts of America's annual meeting in 2014. "There's no certainty about any of this," he says of the situation in Iraq. Mark Zaleski/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Mark Zaleski/AP