The latest addition to our combat footage section took place in the Iraqi city of Mosul in 2017. It shows an ISIS fanatic brazenly walk out into an open street only to be met by a hail of bullets from nearby Kurdish militia or the Iraqi Army. Incredibly, every bullet appears to miss the militant but peppers the wall behind him causing him to flee back to the safety of his initial position unharmed, unfortunately.

The ancient city of Mosul fell to the Islamic State in June 2014. At the centre of the city was the Great Mosque of al-Nuri. It was here that the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi stepped onto the podium to declare the creation of the “caliphate”.

Mosul was an extremely strategic city for ISIS to capture. As well as being the second-most populous city in Iraq, it also has a majority Sunni population who generally have a deep distrust of the predominantly Shia Iraqi government and its armed forces.

Battle for Mosul

Before ISIS came, Mosul was extremely diverse and populated by people such as Armenians, Yazidis, Assyrian, Turkmen, and Shabak. Under ISIS, all of them have the gruesome treatment and ethnic cleansing. The Iraqi government plan to take the city back was predicted to be the “mother of all battles.” The nickname came true.

Two years later the Iraqi government alongside allied militia groups such as the Kurdish Peshmerga, launched an offensive dubbed “We Are Coming, Nineveh” in order to retake Mosul from ISIS. The operation was the biggest deployment of Iraqi troops since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The battle was the world’s single largest military operation in nearly 15 years since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Battle for Mosul
Iraqi special forces soldiers fire weapons at Islamic State fighters in Mosul, Iraq November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

The Battle of Mosul was concurrent with the Battle of Sirte in Libya and the Raqqa campaign carried out by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) against ISIL’s capital city and stronghold in Syria. As a result, ISIS was on the backfoot and their fighting became ever more desperate and fanatical, as can be seen in the video featured here.

The fighting to oust the ISIS fanatics was brutal, prolonged, and fierce. Widespread and elaborate defences, booby traps, and the presence of civilians made advancing difficult and slow. But Iraqi forces pushed on and the city was captured from ISIS in July 2017. It is estimated that removing the explosives left behind by ISIS in Mosul as well as repairing the city over the next 5 years will cost around $50 billion.

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Batya (Батя) is the founder of Reaper Feed. He is an international security advisor and a high-risk expedition leader across former and active conflict zones such as Eastern Ukraine, unrecognized post-Soviet states, the North Caucasus, and the Middle East. Batya founded Reaper Feed to provide unprecedented insight into the lesser-seen sides of human conflict and modern warfare. He is from the UK but his work means he is based in various countries around the world.