In June 2014, three years ago, Daesh seized control of Mosul and imposed a brutal and warped version of religious rule that is entirely alien to Iraqi Muslims. Their reign of terror has hung over the city and the civilians ever since.
As the Battle for Mosul enters its final stages, Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) advance further into Mosul. The ISF have met fierce resistance as Daesh desperately cling onto the increasingly small area they still control in the Old City.
Civilians have suffered from the tyranny of Daesh rule, basic rights were eradicated with severe food, water and electricity shortages. ‘They govern people with fear and with killing,’ said one Mosul refugee. In the past few weeks alone, hundreds of civilians attempting to flee western Mosul have been slaughtered by Daesh.
There are still an estimated 100,000 people trapped in the Old City, who are being used as human shields. Many have criticised Daesh’s tactic of hiding among the civilians, effectively placing women and children in unnecessary danger. The ISF commented that Daesh have attempted to retake lost territory at night, this type of offensive was prolific during Ramadan.
Despite the ongoing battle in western Mosul, it is now six months since eastern Mosul was liberated. Civilians are rebuilding their lives; children are returning to school, students to university, shops and markets have reopened and bulldozers are clearing the destruction and debris left by Daesh.
Citizens of eastern Mosul were finally able to celebrate Eid al-Fitr without Daesh oppression. Families gathered in the streets and market squares, and children were playing peacefully. ‘The best thing that has happened in Mosul is that freedom has returned,’ one citizen insisted. The sheer determination and resilience of the civilians bringing life back to eastern Mosul is evident.
Despite the resilience, there are stark reminders everywhere of the pain the city has endured and the irreversible psychological and physical damage caused to Mosul.
For many, the celebrations were overshadowed by the reminders of lost loved ones. And many expressed their sadness of the destruction of the 850-year old Grand Mosque and leaning minaret, which Daesh ruthlessly blew up on 22 June. ‘Eid is just not the same’ said a local man.
As the Battle for Mosul enters its final days, the expulsion of Daesh will mark the end of their de facto Iraq capital.