Since the day Daesh [Arabic acronym for ISIS] captured Mosul in June 2014, the group has defended the city by putting civilians as human shield and hiding in places like hospitals, schools and busy neighborhoods. Thousands of the Iraq’s displaced from Mosul have lost their loved ones or were injured on their way out as a result.
The liberation of Mosul comes at a time when Daesh has to deal with the death of their leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph of the Muslim world. According to latest reports, Daesh has confirmed the death of their leader.
What does the liberation of Mosul and the death of al-Baghdadi mean for the people of Iraq, Syria and more importantly ISIS itself?
Nothing much is left for the living in Mosul after the year-long heavy fighting between Iraqi forces and ISIS. The city has been destroyed into rubble. According to UN estimates, building the bare-minimum and most important infrastructure of the city will cost almost $1 billion.
While the defeat of ISIS is a good news, for many people of Mosul who bore the collateral damage of the war, reality presents a different picture.
They had to leave their homes and lose their loved ones while walking away from, what many termed as “a literal hell on earth”. Being ruled by ISIS, Mosul civilians have described a life of terror, with children killed for minor misdemeanors, public floggings and regular disappearances of people.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi arrived in Mosul on Sunday and congratulated Iraqi Army for taking the city from the Islamic State. The coalition celebrated with the ISF for retaking the city. However, security officials have warned that there still might be fighters hiding under the rubble and explosive devices left behind.
Now, they have to return to their home, a home of rubble. The biggest challenge to the Iraqi government and its partners will be rebuilding the city back from the ground up.
On the other hand, Islamic State is on the back foot on all fronts. Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has also confirmed to Reuters that it has undeniable proof that the group’s leader al-Baghdadi is dead.
The confirmation of the death of ISIS leader is a major blow to the group that was already losing ground both in Iraq and Syria. With their leader now dead and losing Mosul, Daesh is now fighting for its last stronghold Raqqa, their de facto capital in Syria.
However, Raqqa too has been been surrounded by US-backed fighters and all routes in and out of the city have been blocked. The group is essentially now fighting for its survival.
While Iraq’s Army and its people celebrate the win over Mosul, the question remains as to how long will it take for the city to be livable again. More importantly, whether the al-Abadi’s government has any strategy to counter the resurgence of ISIS in future?