The Current

After ISIS is pushed out, what's the future of Mosul?

Re-capturing one of Iraq's main cities has come at an enormous cost, especially at the expense of civilians.
As Iraq's prime minister declares an end to the self-declared ISIS caliphate, the fighting continues for the liberation of Mosul. (Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters)

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For ISIS, Mosul was once their biggest prize — a city of two million people.

It was from Mosul's Great Mosque of al-Nuri that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi first declared the so-called caliphate. That was just over three years ago.

Now, much of Western Mosul lies in ruins — including the al-Nuri mosque.

Re-capturing one of Iraq's main cities has come at an enormous cost — thousands of civilians killed, wounded or displaced, elite Iraqi forces broken down, celebrated mosques and shrines left in ruins. 

Campbell MacDiarmid, a freelance journalist who has been covering the campaign for Mosul since it began, says ISIS is approaching its bitter end in the battle for Mosul. 
Civilians have been caught in the middle of the battle, with Iraqi security forces accusing them of being ISIS fighters. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)

"I think it's less than a square mile now of territory that they're retaining," he tells The Current's guest host Mike Finnerty.

"And it's basically a foregone conclusion now that they will be defeated militarily at least," explains MacDiarmid.

As Iraq's prime minister declares an end to the self-declared ISIS caliphate, the fighting continues. Female suicide bombers are now being used to inflict casualties on Iraqi forces by coming out of Mosul with civilians.

Overall it's just an unbelievably horrific situation for civilians.- Campbell MacDiarmid

This tactic has made Iraqi security forces overtly suspicious of any civilians fleeing the Old City.

According to MacDiarmid, any men leaving Mosul without any relatives or identification are being treated as ISIS suspects and extrajudicial killings of ISIS fighters are being carried out on the spot.

He says ISIS realizes the value of civilians because they slow down the advance of Iraqi forces and for every civilian that is killed, it is a "propaganda victory." 
Mosul's Great Mosque of al-Nuri was blown up by ISIS forces. It was first built in the late 12th century. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)

"Overall it's just an unbelievably horrific situation for civilians. There's no good options for them," he tells Finnerty.

"If they stay, they can be killed. If they leave, they could be killed or treated with suspicion and hostility."

For Zaid Adamo, Mosul still holds a special place in his heart. He spent his formative years in the city before moving to Canada.

He tells Finnerty about having mixed feelings towards the battle raging against ISIS — a combination of joy and sadness — joy that the city is being liberated, but sadness and fear for the future of the city and its people. 

When you have a family member who's been killed or God forbid, raped, how can you heal that?- Zaid Adamo

Adamo says while the majority of civilians feel relief that the end is near, there is still a rift that exists among the various cultures and religions in Mosul. He explains it will take intensive therapy to help the people who have suffered from the devastating impact of ISIS' control.

"Rape, murder, kidnaps, churches, temples, Yazidi shrines have been destroyed — 1,500 to ... 2,000 years of history have been demolished," he explains.

"It's really hard to heal that rift. When you have a family member who's been killed or God forbid, raped, how can you heal that?" he says.

"It needs generations of intense work."

Listen to the full segment at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Howard Goldenthal, Pacinthe Mattar and Julian Uzielli.

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