The end of Islamic State occupation of Mosul, the terrorist group's last major stronghold in Iraq, is "imminent" after a months-long battle, U.S.-supported Iraqi coalition forces said Saturday. The victory is a major strategic blow against ISIS, which is steadily losing territory in Iraq and Syria, though it retains its de facto capital in Syria's Raqqa.
While many Iraqi soldiers celebrated the win, for residents of Mosul joy is dulled by the destruction and civilian casualties long-term fighting has produced. "If there is no rebuilding and people don't return to their homes and regain their belongings, what is the meaning of liberation?" asked Mohammed Haji Ahmed, a clothing merchant.
ISIS used civilians as human shields, killing more than 200 in a single three-day period in June. The Pentagon confirmed Friday U.S.-led coalition airstrikes killed more than 600 innocents in Mosul, but one independent estimate puts that number much higher, close to 5,000.