The nine-month U.S.-backed offensive to expel Islamic State militants from Mosul, Iraq was a relentless and savage fight.
Now that that it has been won, another daunting battle has begun: to bring Iraq’s second-largest city back from the dead.
Thousands of buildings have been reduced to rubble, more than 120 miles of roadways have been damaged, and the city’s airport, railway station and at least one university are wrecked.
As the militants retreated after 2½ years of occupation, they intentionally targeted infrastructure, demolishing vital bridges, attacking the water and sewage systems and tearing down electricity lines. They also laced neighborhoods with booby traps and homemade bombs.
“The destruction is massive,” said Saroj Kumar Jha, who oversees Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon for the World Bank. “It will be a very big reconstruction effort.”
The United Nations estimates that repairing Mosul’s basic infrastructure will cost more than $1 billion.
But rebuilding and reviving Mosul will require more than physical reconstruction, experts said.
“Obviously there’s a cosmetic issue, but underpinning that is governance,“ said Eric Bordenkircher, a researcher at the Center for Middle East Development at UCLA’s International Institute. “You can build all these houses, but people may not want to return if they don’t trust the Iraqi government.”
Feature photo courtesy of FARS News Agency.