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The Mosul Offensive

The Mosul Offensive

A General Summary

In June of 2014, the city of Mosul was taken from the Iraqi government by the notorious terrorist organization ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).

Mosul is Iraq’s third most populous city, though over 500,000 residents have fled since the ISIS takeover. A trading hub and industrial center, Mosul is a significant strategic stronghold for ISIS and one of the largest so far in its Iraqi conquest. Notable landmarks of the city include the The Great Mosque of al-Nuriis (known for its leaning minaret), where the current ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the creation of a caliphate consisting of current ISIS controlled territories.

In October of last year, Iraqi and international coalition forces (including a U.S. led coalition) launched an offensive against the Mosul terrorist occupation. The offensive began with gradual advances and airstrikes to cut off possible ISIS supply routes to the city.

The Iraqi government declared a complete liberalization of the eastern section of Mosul in January 2017. The western district of the city remains to be freed, though ISIS occupied territory in the west continues to shrink. According to the BBC, the western section presents a larger challenge for anti-ISIS forces as it consists of narrow streets.

Recent Developments

Mosul has fallen into chaos as the ISIS occupation has progressed. In a recent incident, the United Nations reported over 160 people killed in the span of only one day in attempts to flee from ISIS controlled sectors of Mosul. There have been multiple reports of civilians trapped in building collapses triggered by explosions.

As Iraqi and coalition forces advance on the increasingly constricted ISIS occupation of Mosul, full liberalization of the city may be in sight. For the three years of ISIS occupation in the city, countless buildings and landmarks were pillaged or bombed and civilians were ruthlessly killed. The Mosul offensive and ISIS have left the city gravely damaged with hundreds of thousands of its residents displaced. According to Stratfor, extensive reconstruction of Mosul’s basic infrastructure will be needed before life can return to normal.

While the city may be returning to Iraqi control in the foreseeable future, one is left to ponder how ISIS was allowed to take it three years ago, against an Iraqi military that should have massively outnumbered ISIS forces.


Raymond Cao