In some parts of liberated Mosul, civilians are returning to their homes following the end to fierce battles that ensued between ISIS militants and the Iraqi Security Forces.
In the eastern part of the city, which was liberated on 24th January, life is attempting to return to normal. Markets have reopened, while shops owners speak of new-found freedom to conduct business in their boutiques, without their customers being harassed by militants for how they dress or act.
In the west of the city, however, the story is quite different. Although residents are attempting to return to their homes, even in the historic Old City, which witnessed some of the most destructive battles during the more than nine-month long battle, the scale of destruction is much greater than in the east.
Many houses have been completely flattened or laced with mines left behind by ISIS militants to cause immense long-term damage. According to de-mining teams on the ground, some of these neighbourhoods in the city will take years to render liveable for those displaced from their homes.
For this reason, some residents are skeptical about returning. “At night I say I want to go to my house,” said one woman, sitting in her tent with her two children. “In the morning, I say why should I go to Mosul? My house is destroyed and I have no money. If I go there, I’ll stay on the street.”
Despite the uncertainty and issues of reconstruction, however, many Moslawis interviewed are happy that the scourge of ISIS rule has been removed from the city. “This is liberation, the joy of all the Iraqi people and especially the people of Mosul,” said one man. “Praise to God, we have been saved from these unjust criminals.”