On July 19, Sherkhon Madkholov heard the terrible news that his son Nazirbek, 26, had been killed in Iraq.
It was Nazirbek’s older brother Murodbek who called home to break the news.
But Murodbek is also in Iraq, with his wife and three children.
Both sons traveled to live in areas controlled by the militant group Islamic State (IS), though Murodbek claims he is not participating in the fighting.
The Madkholov family hails from the village of Saidkul Turdiev in Tajikistan’s Hamadoni district, part of the southwestern Khatlon region.
According to the local authorities, seven people from Hamadoni have gone to IS-controlled territories in Syria and Iraq.
Three have been reported killed, including Nazirbek.
Nazirbek went to Iraq in March. Just three months earlier, he had taken his new wife to Moscow in order to find work.