Mosul street destruction
The UN predicts it will cost more than $US1 billion to repair basic infrastructure in Mosul. (Reuters: Alaa Al-Marjani)

The Battle for Mosul has been nine months of dogged, bloody urban warfare, and despite the Iraqi government’s claim of success pockets of fighting continues.

Here’s how the story has unfolded, what’s left of Mosul, and where the fight against Islamic State heads next.

Islamic state took control of Mosul in 2014

Islamic State militants seized Mosul in June, 2014 when they swept across northern and central Iraq.

The group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, appeared at Mosul’s al-Nuri Mosque and declared a caliphate on territory it seized in Iraq and Syria.

Abu Bakr al Baghdadi
A man purported to be the leader of Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, from a video posted in 2014. (Reuters)

It was the largest city to fall under the militants’ control.

Read also: Iraqi PM Declares Victory in Mosul as Army Drives ISIL from city

In October 2016, the mission to take it back began.

Over the nearly nine-month campaign, Iraqi forces — backed by airstrikes from the US-led coalition — reduced the IS hold on Iraq’s second-largest city to less than a square kilometre of territory.
Today, the Iraqi Prime Minister said IS rule over the city had come to an end:

“We are glad to see normal life return for the citizens. This is the result of the sacrifices of the (country’s) heroic fighters.”

Is the fighting over?

Not quite.

State television showed Prime Minister Abadi touring Mosul on foot alongside residents of Iraq’s second-largest city.

But air strikes and exchanges of gunfire could still be heard in the narrow streets of Mosul’s Old City, where the Islamic State has staged its last stand.

Prime Minister Abadi is yet to issue a formal declaration that the entire city has been retaken.

And experts say IS fighters could now revert to a campaign of insurgency against government forces rather than more direct confrontation.

What’s left of Mosul?

Blocks away from the army celebrations, a line of weary civilians walked out of the Old City, past the shells of destroyed apartment blocks lining roads cratered by airstrikes.

Rescuers search through
Civil protection rescue teams search through the debris of a house destroyed in a US airstrike in the western sector of Mosul. (AP: Felipe Dana, File)

Last month, as Iraqi troops closed in on the Old City, the militants destroyed the al-Nuri Mosque and its famous leaning minaret to deny the forces a symbolic triumph.

Grand al-Nuri Mosque composite
A composite image showing the Grand al-Nuri Mosque as seen on June 1 (R) compared to aerial footage after its destruction on June 21, 2017. (Reuters)

The United Nations predicts it will cost more than $1 billion to repair basic infrastructure in Mosul.

In some of the worst affected areas, almost no buildings appear to have escaped damage and Mosul’s dense construction means the extent of the devastation might be underestimated, UN officials said.

What about the people?

The fierce battle has killed thousands and displaced more than 897,000 people, according to the Associated Press.

What’s next in the battle against ISIS?

The attention now turns to the city considered to be IS’s base of operation, Raqqa, in Syria.

US-backed Syrian forces have encircled the militants inside Raqqa, breached their fortified defences and inched closer to the heart of the city. Yet the battle has barely begun.

More than 2,000 militants are holed up with their families and tens of thousands of civilians in Raqqa’s centre, the city’s most densely populated quarters.

Although a fraction the size of Iraq’s Mosul, Raqqa’s urban warfare may prove as gruelling, and those fighting the extremists risk being dragged into side battles with other groups in Syria’s complex civil war.

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