IN THE evening Adil Jumaili and his daughter stand beside the Tigris river in Mosul and stare at the wreckage on the opposite bank. Two twisted cars lie where their home once stood. It was destroyed, along with 8,000 other buildings, when Iraqi forces recaptured the city from the jihadists of Islamic State (IS) in July. The hospital at Mosul’s edge, once amongst Iraq’s finest, has been flattened. So, too, has the government complex, all the schools and the medieval alleyways lined with madrassas and monasteries.
Precision bombing by Western aircraft spared much of eastern Mosul, which is recovering fast. But western Mosul proved harder to retake. Block-by-block fighting and so-called “annihilation tactics” (a decision to wipe out IS fighters rather than let them flee) destroyed much of the area. Bodies are still being pulled from the ruins and the smell of putrefaction hangs in the air. Nearly 6,000 civilians died in the fighting, says Amnesty International, a human-rights group.
Mosul may be the best known of the cities recaptured from IS. But the sense of neglect is palpable across the areas populated by Sunni Arabs. Fallujah, some 400km to the south, was not as badly damaged in the month-long battle to liberate it. But a year later its residents still complain of mistreatment by the central government. “We are living in a big prison,” says one….