BuzzFeed reports: ISIS has cost Ziad Salem deeply — his job as a guard at the ministry of oil; his marriage to a wife who turned out to be an ISIS sympathizer; and his home once her family tarnished him as an opponent of the caliphate, sending him into hiding. Then, when the war to liberate Mosul began in earnest, he lost his city.
“ISIS promised it would create a caliphate that would stretch from Baghdad to the Philippines,” the 48-year-old said during a walk to see what remained of his shattered hometown. “Instead I lost everything. But above all I lost my city and country.”
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over ISIS in Mosul this week, emphasizing that the challenge of reconstruction must now get underway. In west Mosul’s topography of pain, loss and destruction, Salem might have gotten off easy. A once proud, relatively prosperous city of an estimated 1.3 million in 2014 has now been reduced to rubble, and all but depopulated. Much of the city’s ancient old quarter, lay in tangled heaps of cement, twisted girders, and electrical wire. [Continue reading…]