The nine-month battle to liberate Mosul from control of Islamic State is a symbolic turning point in Iraq’s recent history. It brought together Kurdish Peshmerga, the 68-nation US-led coalition, Iraq’s newly trained special forces and powerful Shi'ite militias to defeat ISIS. Mosul is Iraq’s second largest city and the key to security in the north. It was here ISIS proclaimed its “caliphate” in 2014 and where ISIS carried many crimes against humanity, including selling Yazidi women into slavery, erasing and destroying national monuments, museums and universities and permanently scarring the history and diversity of northern Iraq.
I went to cover the war against ISIS after seeing the shocking videos in 2014 of ISIS murdering Shi'ite cadets at Camp Speicher and Yazidis in Sinjar. The heroism of the Kurds and other Iraqis in standing against this group was inspiring and essential to securing the region and the world against terror. However the liberation of the city leaves many questions unanswered. This includes the fate of hundreds of thousands of displaced people, how the religious extremists will be fully defeated, whether the Shi'ite militias will continue to play a major role in northern Iraq and whether the Kurdistan region will seek independence.