'Freedom has returned': Eastern Mosul recovers from ISIS trauma

Life on Mosul’s Left Bank is slowly starting to return to normal as residents reopen shops and move freely around their neighbourhoods after Iraqi Security Forces expel ISIS from the eastern side of the city. The battle to take eastern Mosul lasted for 100 days, and ended on the 24th January, when Iraqi forces liberated the last pockets of the city from ISIS.

Residents are starting to repair damaged homes and shops due to the significant amount of damaged caused during the fighting. Much of the city’s infrastructure was severely damaged in the fighting.

ISIS conducted scorched earth attacks which rendered the water and electricity facilities inoperable and the infrastructure has yet to be fully repaired. Civilians from the neighbourhoods of Rifaq, Muthanna, Nour and Zuhour have complained about the lack water and electricity cuts which have yet to be addressed after more than four months.

However, despite the challenges faced by the people of east Mosul, many residents are jubilant that ISIS have been expelled and their freedoms have returned. Life was severely restricted under the militant group, as ISIS members would routinely harass, imprison, torture and kill those who did not conform to their strict religious regulations.

In the two and a half years under ISIS, residents of Mosul were not allowed to move freely or dress how they wanted. Standard forms of entertainment such as TV and internet usage were forbidden or significantly restricted. 

Rabi Ahmad ِThunun, a mechanic in east Mosul describes how relieved he is that ISIS are gone and that life has returned to his hometown. He explains how “the best thing that happened in Mosul is that freedom has returned, freedom for young people, at schools and work… life is normal and people are happy.”

Rabi’s gratitude towards the Iraqi Security Forces is also evident as he describes them as “more than family” for liberating his city.