Life in eastern Mosul is beginning to return to normal. Despite the immense task of reconstruction following a devastating war against ISIS, markets have reopened, cars are on the roads, and many of those displaced have returned to their homes.
Civilians have also returned to Mosul’s streets, once again able to enjoy basic freedoms without the infringement of ISIS militants, who would patrol streets as part of the Hisba, the group’s “morality police”, and punish those who made even the most minor infringement.
“Freedom is back and there are no constraints,” said one resident. “During ISIS’s rule, we were so oppressed. No movement, no shops. Nothing. No services were even allowed.”
The assault to take back Mosul began in October 2016 with the first incursions into the eastern Mosul neighbourhood of Gogjali in early November. The complete eastern side, which is known as the Sahil al-Aysar – the “Left Bank” – was liberated at the end of January.
The battle for the western side began on 19th February 2017. Since that time, the fighting in the city has become more intense as ISIS militants use civilians as human shields.
Although the Iraqi forces have all but liberated the western side, scattered fighting remains in the Old City, as Counter Terrorism Forces hunt down the remaining militants.
However, for those that have escaped, the end of ISIS tyranny has allowed them to breathe a sigh of relief, as they attempt to regain some sense of normality following three years of the group’s rule.