Iraqi Prime Minister Arrives in Mosul to Declare Victory Over ISIS

“I will leave Mosul because it has become a destroyed city,” said Aisha Abdullah, a teacher from Mosul who endured life under the Islamic State. “In every corner of it there is memory and blood.”

And while the Islamic State, with its harsh rule, alienated many of the Sunni residents it sought to represent, many residents said its ideology caught on among some of the population, especially young men.

“There is no use in reconstructing the city if the people of Mosul don’t change,” said Ms. Abdullah. “There are still many people who assist ISIS, and the acts of violence will never end.”

Marwan Saeed, another Mosul resident, who lives in the city’s east side, which was liberated in January and where life has largely been restored to normal, with schools and shops reopening and most civilians returning home, said he feared for the future, now more than ever.

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“Frankly, I’m desperate over the future,” he said. “ISIS destroyed the people’s mentality, and the wars destroyed the infrastructure, and we paid the price. There is no such thing as the phase after ISIS. ISIS is a mentality, and this mentality will not end with guns alone.”

And there is the fear that many Islamic State fighters who were not captured or killed had simply put down their guns and blended in with the civilian population, to live to fight another day.

“Do you know that most of the ISIS fighters have shaved their beards and took off their clothes, and now they are free?” said Zuhair Hazim al-Jibouri, a member of Mosul’s local council.

Falih Hassan contributed reporting from Mosul, Iraq, Omar al-Jawoshy contributed from Baghdad and an employee of The New York Times from Erbil, Iraq.


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