After IS group rule, war-torn Iraqi city of Mosul looks to future
In 2014, the Islamic State group declared Mosul the capital of its caliphate in Iraq. The offensive to liberate the city in 2017 saw one of the most brutal bombing campaigns in recent history. Our reporters travelled to Mosul to meet residents who are trying to rebuild the city and their lives.
Mosul, the administrative capital of the Nineveh Governorate in Iraq, means “junction” in Arabic. Several thousand years old, it spans both sides of the River Tigris. To reach the Old City, you must take the old bridge, the only one still standing. This is the neighbourhood where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State (IS) group leader at the time, made his first public appearance at the Great Mosque of al-Nuri, which today lies in ruins. Reconstruction work is slow and costly.
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The speed at which the city fell under the control of the Islamic State group in 2014 covered the local population in a cloud of suspicion which has still not lifted to this day. Mosul, the largest Sunni city in Iraq, is now patrolled by security forces who are mostly Shiite. Among them, the Iran-linked Hashd al-Shaabi (or Popular Mobilisation Forces), continue to fight IS group sleeper cells in the desert surrounding the city.
For close to a week, our reporters met with residents, soldiers and also imams who have the task of preventing the faithful from becoming radicalised. In a city where local Shiite leaders are struggling to establish their authority, young people – who make up the majority of the population – are doing what they can to turn the page and build a better future. Everywhere they went, our reporters met Mosulites who hope that one day their city will cease to be systematically associated with Islamist terrorism.
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