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Jul 14, 2017 | 11:46 GMT

1 min read

The Liberation of Mosul: A Visual Anthology

Iraqi troops clear house-by-house, moving toward the Old City in western Mosul on March 13.
(ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Editor's Note:

Three years ago, on June 10, 2014, around 1,500 fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) captured Iraq's second-largest city, routing out a numerically superior defending force. The alarm caused by the city's capture traveled well beyond Baghdad, resonating among Western powers that had been fighting in Iraq only three years prior to the toppling of Mosul. On June 29, 2014, ISIL spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani announced the founding of an Islamic caliphate. The following month, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi — leader of the Islamic State, as the organization came to be known — gave a victory address from the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul.

On June 21 of this year, the site of al-Baghdadi's triumphant address, which had stood for almost 850 years, was destroyed by the Islamic State as the hard-fought offensive to retake Mosul from the militant group entered its final stages. The reason was simple: To keep Iraqi security forces from claiming a symbolic victory. It is a dark time for the once-powerful militant organization. Al-Adnani is dead, killed in an airstrike in Syria in 2016; Baghdadi's whereabouts is currently unknown; and the noose is tightening on the remaining Islamic State bastion (the town of Raqqa) in Syria. The battle for Mosul is a significant milestone for Iraq and the global coalition seeking to quash the jihadist threat in the country, but it is not the end of the road.

Though the fight to eradicate the remnants of the Islamic State is ongoing, it is important to take stock of what has been achieved over the past nine months. Stratfor has closely tracked the operation to retake Mosul, which began mid-October, 2016, and in this visual anthology, we explore the effect of the fighting on the city, its inhabitants and the security forces responsible for its liberation.

A view of the destruction wrought on Mosul's Old City, the final battleground in the campaign to rid the city of Islamic State presence.

A view of the destruction wrought on Mosul's Old City, the final battleground in the campaign to rid the city of Islamic State presence. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi arrived in Mosul on July 9 to congratulate the Iraqi security forces ahead of the announcement of Mosul's liberation.

(AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)

Iraqi Federal Police engage an Islamic State position with mortar fire during the battle to recapture west Mosul, April 12. Despite being completely surrounded, Islamic State fighters put up stiff resistance, forcing Iraqi security forces to engage in house-to-house fighting to retake Iraq's second largest city.

(CARL COURT/Getty Images)
A view of the Tigris River from the compound of the Nineveh International Hotel in Mosul, June 16.

A view of the Tigris River from the compound of the Nineveh International Hotel in Mosul on June 16. The hotel was recovered by Iraqi troops earlier in the year. A screening center was established to receive the steady stream of Iraqis fleeing the fighting. Any civilians seeking refuge were first screened by Iraqi security forces searching for suspected Islamic State members attempting to escape.

(MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images)
A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter reacts to hits against his vehicle from Islamic State snipers located in the small town of Bartella just outside Mosul.

A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter reacts to hits against his vehicle from Islamic State snipers located in the small town of Bartella just outside Mosul on Oct. 18, 2016. Islamic State strongholds around the city had to be cleared before the assault on Mosul itself could begin in earnest. 

(CARL COURT/Getty Images)
A young girl sits on a boy's lap as families wait for the fighting in Mosul's Old City to be over.

Families fleeing the fighting in Mosul's Old City on July 5 take pause. In the days to come, the Islamic State would be fully driven out of the city and the reconstruction effort could begin.

(AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
A man walks by destroyed vehicles in the Old City of Mosul, July 2.

A man walks by destroyed vehicles in the Old City of Mosul on July 2. More than eight months after Iraqi security forces launched a punishing operation to retake the city, Islamic State fighters prepared for their final stand across a few neighborhoods on its western side.

(FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images)
Omar, a young wounded Iraqi boy whose family was killed in the fighting, sits with members of the Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) as they help him escape the Old City, July 3. 2017.

Omar, a young wounded Iraqi boy whose family was killed in the fighting, sits with members of the Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) as they help him escape the Old City on July 3. Iraqi forces have been closing in on western Mosul for months, but the close terrain combined with a large civilian population has made for an extremely difficult fight.

(AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
A member of the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) wipes his face while standing in the turret of a up-armored vehicle parked outside the destroyed gate of Al-Nuri Mosque in the Old City on July 2.

A member of the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) wipes his face while standing in the turret of an up-armored vehicle parked outside the destroyed gate of al-Nuri mosque in the Old City on July 2.

(AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the Iraqi federal police pose for a picture with children during a celebration in the Old City of Mosul during the closing stages of the grueling battle to retake Iraq's second city from Islamic State, July 2.

Members of the Iraqi Federal Police pose for a picture with children during a celebration in the Old City of Mosul during the final stages of the grueling battle to retake Iraq's second city from the Islamic State on July 2.

(AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)

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