The Battle for Mosul

Marwa Hameed

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Mosul was one of Iraq’s most populated and thriving cities, home to over 1.8 million people. It was known for its creation of intricate metal work, its production of oil and marble, and being a diverse city with more than 10 different ethnic minorities, the melting pot of modern day Iraq. But in 2014, the city of Mosul fell to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and the government of Iraq has been trying to regain Mosul back ever since.

Taken from Wikimandia (based on Department of Defense map of Iraq)

A visual of how Iraqi and Kurdish forces will enter Mosul (Taken from Wikimandia, based on Department of Defense map of Iraq)

Recently, the government of Iraq, alongside Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, Shia militiamen, Sunni Arab tribesmen, and US-led coalition warplanes and military advisers, have launched a new offensive for one final push to reclaim the city two years after it fell to ISIS in June of 2014. Mosul is where ISIS first set up base, and where its major planning phases have occurred. To take back Mosul now would mean taking a step towards weakening the stronghold ISIS has on Iraq, allowing more legroom for the Kurdish and Iraqi forces to move in. Freeing the city would not only be a welcome relief for its people, but a paramount device to ensure the safety of Baghdad and secure the motivation for the Iraqis to push more into the North, the East, and other areas controlled by ISIS.

A British trainer addresses Iraqi soldiers before they begin practicing an area search at the Besmaya Range Complex, Iraq (Taken by U.S. Army photo by Spc. Christopher Brecht-PUBLIC DOMAIN)

A trainer addresses Iraqi soldiers before they begin practicing an area search at the Besmaya Range Complex, Iraq (Taken by U.S. Army photo by Spc. Christopher Brecht-PUBLIC DOMAIN)

The operation has been planned out to ensure the least amount civilian casualties, with the Iraqi forces already clearing out distant villages within the first two weeks. Interference from ISIS is still present during this time, as they have been heavily targeting the offensive before it reaches the heart of Mosul. Although progress has been made in the beginning of this month, almost every step forward has been met with a step back.  Bad weather has obstructed the advance even more, with the poor visibility combined with heavy gun fire, snipers, suicide bombs, and mortar fire. The military has stated that there is no saying as to how the offensive will go for these first few weeks, and that it could take weeks, or even months.

A U.S. Soldier assigned to Company B., 1st Battalion, 126th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, prepares for a key leader engagement to assess Iraqi security force checkpoints at Qayyarah West Airfield, Iraq (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Christopher Brecht-PUBLIC DOMAIN)

With the progress moving forward and backward in Mosul, the Iraqi government has made it evident that it will push harder to reclaim its second largest city back. Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, has addressed his people as the offensive began stating, ”The hour of victory has arrived, and operations for the liberation of Mosul have begun. I announce today the start of these heroic operations to free you from the terror and oppression of the Islamic State.”

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