The international airport in Mosul was occupied by ISIS militants in the summer of 2014, when the militants overran the entire city. During their occupation of the airport, large parts of it was destroyed and used as a military base to launch their operations into neighbouring towns and cities to the south. Upon reports that the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) were going to launch operations to take Mosul, the militants implemented a destructive scorched earth policy.
Mosul’s international airport, which the militants feared could be used to launch attacks on their strongholds in northern Iraq, felt the full brunt of ISIS’ destruction. According to reports, the militants razed almost all the buildings at the airport, on the southern outskirts of Mosul. Runways were also damaged with wide trenches carved into them and rubble placed along their lengths. Taxiways and aprons – where aircraft park – were also sabotaged by the militants.
The destruction of the international airport rendered it worthless in the battle to liberate Mosul from the militant group. Airports or runways are typically a primary objective for assaults on cities, since control over them can deny or enable logistical capabilities, having a considerable impact on the outcome of battles. However, this was not the case for Mosul’s International airport.
Eventually, the Iraqi forces took control of the airport in February 2017, as part of the second phase in the Mosul operations to take the western side of the city. Once taken, the Iraqi forces pushed into the western side of the city from the south eventually liberating the whole city in July 2017.
Now, Iraqi officials are undergoing work to rehabilitate and rebuild the airport. The work to rebuild the airport is seen as an important investment opportunity for neighbouring countries and international companies. Locals hope this project will bring investment into the country and job opportunities.