Mosul is free! Sort of.
This is going to be an unusual post. Usually short with some unusual images, two, taken with my Samsung Note 5. I am just back from Iraq, no more than 24 hour from writing this. I have LOTS to tell you and share by way of photographs, too.
But I wanted to address the big news, recently released, that the fight against ISIS in Iraq is over, and the city of Mosul is free!
Well, not exactly.
(The stairs leading up to the tomb of Jonah. Iraq, 2017)
Among the many places that I went and things that I did while in Iraq, I was in Mosul and climb the the ruins of the tomb of Jonah. For those who do not know, on July 24, 2014, ISIS savagely destroyed this once magnificent site, believed to hold the tomb of the great prophet. While I normally don’t do this – I was so moved while there that I pocketed a piece of the ruins.
While up on the tomb I watched the battle for Western Mosul rage, full force, complete with mortars, automatic weapons fire and the persistent hum of US drones. ISIS is still in the cities of Iraq, and at least as of last week, still fighting in Mosul.
(A fragment of Jonah’s tomb. Iraq, 2017)
The most interesting part of Jonah’s tomb are the tunnels which run underneath it. Open by ISIS’ destructive handiwork, they crisscross the complex, revealing secrets of the past not seen for thousands of years. Ducking into them we encountered fragments of shattered Assyrian artifacts, dead rats and wild dogs that now call this once beautiful monument home. The former Assyrian palace, Synagogue, Church and then Mosque, all honoring the prophet Johan, is now a hopeless pile of stones and mortar – a haunted place.
But back on the surface, and back to the point – the war with ISIS in Iraq might be winding down, but the battle is just starting. Iraqis, and especially victims of the war, are just starting to come to grips with the destruction, the death and the division spread by ISIS. How they stand up after this war, how they pull themselves together, is going to be the real battle of this terrible, three-year long conflict.