: Mûsil ,مووسڵ
) is a major city in northern Iraq
. It is the capital of Nineveh governorate
and is Iraq's second largest city.
Located approximately 400 km (250 mi) north of Baghdad
; Mosul stands on the Tigris
river. The metropolitan area of Mosul has grown from the old city on the western side to encompass substantial areas on both the "Left Bank" (east side) and the "Right Bank" (west side), as the two banks are described by the locals compared to the flow direction of Tigris. Mosul encloses the ruins of the ancient Assyrian
city of Nineveh
on its east side.
A map of Mosul and its quarters.
Grand mosque of Mosul
City of Mosul
The Shrine of Imam Yahya Abu Al Qasim
Nineveh - Mashki Gate
At the start of the 21st century, Mosul and its surroundings had an ethnically and religiously diverse population; the majority of Mosul's population were Arabs
, with Assyrians
in addition to other, smaller ethnic minorities. In religious terms, mainstream Sunni Islam
was the largest religion, but with a significant number of followers of the Salafi movement
(the latter followed by the Assyrians and Armenians), as well as Shia Islam
Mosul's population grew rapidly around the turn of the millennium and by 2004, the city's population was estimated to be 1,846,500.
In 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
seized control of the city.
The Iraqi government recaptured it in the Battle of Mosul
three years later, during which the city sustained heavy damage.
Historically, important products of the area include Mosul marble
. The city of Mosul is home to the University of Mosul
and its renowned Medical College, which together was one of the largest educational and research centers in Iraq and the Middle East.
The name of the city is first mentioned by Xenophon
in his expeditionary logs in Achaemenid Assyria
of 401 BC, during the reign of the Persian Achaemenid Empire
. There, he notes a small Assyrian
town of "Mépsila" (Ancient Greek
: Μέψιλα) on the Tigris somewhere about where modern Mosul is today (Anabasis
, III.iv.10). It may be safer to identify Xenophon's Mépsila
with the site of Iski Mosul, or "Old Mosul", about 30 km (19 mi) north of modern Mosul, where six centuries after Xenophon's report, the Sasanian Empire
's center of Budh-Ardhashir
was built. Be that as it may, the name Mepsila is doubtless the root for the modern name.
In its current Arabic form and spelling, the term Mosul, or rather "Mawsil", stands for the "linking point" – or loosely, the "Junction City," in Arabic
. Within the eastern side of Mosul is located the ruins of the ancient city of Nineveh and as such Assyrians
still refer to the entire city of Mosul as Nineveh
(or rather, Ninweh).
Mosul is also nicknamed al-Faiha
("the Paradise"), al-Khaḍrah
("the Green"), and al-Hadbah
("the Humped"). It is sometimes described as "The Pearl of the North"
and "the city of a million soldiers".
Ancient era and early Middle Ages
The area in which Mosul lies was an integral part of Assyria
from as early as the 25th century BC. After the Akkadian Empire
(2335–2154 BC), which united all of the peoples of Mesopotamia
under one rule, Mosul again became a continuous part of Assyria proper from circa 2050 BC through to the fall of the Neo-Assyrian Empire
between 612 and 599 BC. Mosul remained within the geopolitical
province of Assyria for a further thirteen centuries (as a part of Achaemenid Assyria
Syria, Roman Assyria
and Sasanian Asōristān
) until the early Muslim conquests
of the mid-7th century. After the Muslim conquests, the region saw a gradual influx of Muslim Arab, Kurdish and Turkic peoples, although the indigenous Assyrians continue to use the name Athura
for the ecclesiastical province.
was one of the oldest and greatest cities in antiquity, and was settled as early as 6000 BC.
The city is mentioned in the Old Assyrian Empire
(2025–1750), and during the reign of Shamshi-Adad I
(1809–1776 BC) it is listed as a centre of worship of the goddess Ishtar
, and it remained as such during the Middle Assyrian Empire
(1365–1056 BC). During the Neo-Assyrian Empire
(911–605 BC) Nineveh grew in size and importance, particularly from the reigns of Tukulti-Ninurta II
and Ashurnasirpal II
(883–859 BC) onward; he chose the city of Kalhu (the Biblical Calah
, modern Nimrud
) as his capital in place of the ancient traditional capital of Aššur
), 30 km (19 mi) from present day Mosul.
The mound of Kuyunjik in Mosul is the site of the palaces of King Sennacherib
, and his successors Esarhaddon
, (who established the Library of Ashurbanipal
. The Assyrian Empire began to unravel from 626 BC onwards, being consumed by a decade of brutal internal civil wars, greatly weakening it. A war-ravaged Assyria was subsequently attacked in 616 BC by a vast coalition of its former subjects, most notably their Babylonian
relations from southern Mesopotamia, together with the Medes
, and Sagartians
. Nineveh fell after a siege and bitter house to house fighting in 612 BC during the reign of Sin-shar-ishkun
who was killed defending his capital. His successor, Ashur-uballit II
, fought his way out of Nineveh and formed a new Assyrian capital at Harran
(now southeastern Turkey).
Mosul (then the Assyrian town of Mepsila
founded by the former inhabitants out of the ruins of their former capital) later succeeded Nineveh as the Tigris bridgehead of the road that linked Assyria and Anatolia
with the short lived Median Empire
and succeeding Achaemenid Empire
(546–332 BC) where it was a part of the geopolitical province of Athura
(Assyria), where the region, and Assyria in general, saw a significant economic revival.
Mosul became part of the Seleucid Empire
after Alexander's conquests in 332 BC. While little is known of the city from the Hellenistic period, Mosul likely belonged to the Seleucid satrapy of Syria
, the Greek term for Assyria
, Syria originally meaning Assyria rather than the modern nation of Syria
(see Etymology of Syria
), which was conquered by the Parthian Empire
circa 150 BC.
In 637 (other sources say 641), during the period of the Caliph Umar
, Mosul was annexed to the Rashidun Caliphate
by Utba ibn Farqad al-Sulami
, during the early Arab Muslim invasions and conquests, after which Assyria was dissolved as a geopolitical entity.
9th century to 1535
In the late 9th century control over Mosul was seized by the Turkish
dynasts Ishaq ibn Kundaj
and his son Muhammad
, but in 893 Mosul came once again under the direct control of the Abbasid Caliphate
. In the early 10th century Mosul came under the control of the native Arab Hamdanid dynasty
. From Mosul, the Hamdanids under Abdallah ibn Hamdan and his son Nasir al-Dawla
expanded their control over Upper Mesopotamia
for several decades, first as governors of the Abbassids and later as de facto
independent rulers. A century later they were supplanted by the Uqaylid dynasty
. Ibn Hawqal
, who visited Mosul in 968, described it as a beautiful town inhabited mainly by Kurds
Mosul was conquered by the Seljuq Empire
in the 11th century. After a period under semi-independent atabeg
such as Mawdud
, in 1127 it became the centre of power of the Zengid dynasty
besieged the city unsuccessfully in 1182 but finally gained control of it in 1186. In the 13th century it was captured by the Mongols
led by Hulagu Khan
, but was spared the usual destruction since its governor, Badr al-Din Luʾluʾ, helped the Khan in his following campaigns in Syria.
After the Mongol defeat in the Battle of Ain Jalut
against the Mamluks
, Badr al-Din's son sided with the latter; this led to the destruction of the city, which later regained some importance but never recovered its original splendor. Mosul was thenceforth ruled by the Mongol Ilkhanate
and Jalairid Sultanate
and escaped Timur
During 1165 Benjamin of Tudela
passed through Mosul; in his papers he wrote that he found a small Jewish community estimated as 7,000 people in Mosul, the community was led by Rabbi Zakkai, presumably connected to the Davidic line
. In 1288–1289, the Exilarch
was in Mosul and signed a supporting paper for Maimonides
In the early 16th century, Mosul was under the Turkmen federation of the Ağ Qoyunlu
, but in 1508 it was conquered by the Safavid dynasty
Conquest of Mosul (Nineveh) by Mustafa Pasha in 1631, a Turkish soldier in the foreground holding a severed head. L., C. (Stecher) 1631 -1650
What started as irregular attacks in 1517 was finalized in 1538, when Ottoman SultanSuleyman the Magnificent added Mosul
to his empire by capturing it from his archrivals — Safavid Persia
Thenceforth Mosul was governed by a pasha
. Mosul was celebrated for its line of walls, comprising seven gates with large towers, a renowned hospital (maristan
) and a covered market (qaysariyya
), and was also famous for its fabrics and flourishing trades.
had been acquired by the Ottoman Empire
in 1555 by the Peace of Amasya
, until the Treaty of Zuhab
in 1639 Ottoman control over Mesopotamia was not decisive.
After the Peace of Amasya, the Safavids recaptured most of Mesopotamia one more time during the reign of king Abbas I
(r. 1588–1629). Amongst the newly appointed Safavid governors of Mesopotamia during those years was Qasem Sultan Afshar
, who was appointed governor of Mosul in 1622.
Prior to 1638, the city of Mosul was considered to the Ottomans "still a mere fortress, important for its strategic position as an offensive platform for Ottoman campaigns into Iraq, as well as a defensive stronghold and staging post guarding the approaches to Anatolia
and to the Syrian coast. Then, with the Ottoman reconquest of Baghdad (1638), the liwa
of Mosul became an independent wilaya
Despite being a part of the Ottoman Empire, during the four centuries of Ottoman rule Mosul was considered "the most independent district" within the Middle East, following the Roman model of indirect rule through local notables.:203–204
"Mosuli culture developed less along Ottoman–Turkish lines than along Iraqi–Arab lines; and Turkish, the official language of the State, was certainly not the dominant language in the province.":203
In line with its status as a politically stable trade route between the Mediterranean
and the Persian Gulf
Mosul developed considerably during the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Similar to the development of the Mamluk
dynasty in Baghdad, during this time "the Jalili family
was establishing itself as the undisputed master of Mosul", and "helping to connect Mosul with a pre-Ottoman, pre-Turcoman
, Arab cultural heritage that was to put the town on its way to recapturing some of the prestige and prominence it had enjoyed under the golden reign of Badr ad-Din Lu’lu’
Along with the al-Umari
and Tasin al-Mufti families, the Jalilis formed an "urban-based small and medium gentry and a new landed elite", which proceeded to displace the control of previous rural tribes.
Such families proceed to establish themselves through private enterprise, solidifying their influence and assets through rents on land and taxes on urban and rural manufacturing.
As well as elected officials, the social architecture of Mosul was highly influenced by the Dominican fathers
who arrived in Mosul in 1750, sent by Pope Benedict XIV
(Mosul had a large Christian population, predominantly indigenous Assyrians
They were followed by the Dominican nuns in 1873. They established a number of schools, health clinics, a printing press and an orphanage. The nuns also established workshops to teach girls sewing and embroidery.
A congregation of Dominican sisters, founded in the 19th century, still had its motherhouse in Mosul by the early 21st century. Over 120 Assyrian Iraqi Sisters belonged to this congregation.
In the nineteenth century the Ottoman government started to reclaim central control over its outlying provinces. Their aim was to "restore Ottoman law, and rejuvenate the military" as well as reviving "a secure tax base for the government".:24–26
In order to reestablish rule in 1834 the Sultan abolished public elections for the position of governor, and began "neutraliz[ing] local families such as the Jalilis
and their class.":28–29
and appointing new, non-Maslawi governors directly. In line with its reintegration within central government rule, Mosul was required to conform to new Ottoman reform legislation, including the standardization of tariff
rates, the consolidation of internal taxes and the integration of the administrative apparatus with the central government.:26
This process started in 1834 with the appointment of Bayraktar Mehmet Pasha, who was to rule Mosul for the next four years. After the reign of Bayraktar Mehmet Pasha, the Ottoman government (wishing still to restrain the influence of powerful local families) appointed a series of governors in rapid succession, ruling "for only a brief period before being sent somewhere else to govern, making it impossible for any of them to achieve a substantial local power base.":29
Mosul's importance as a trading center declined after the opening of the Suez Canal
, which enabled goods to travel to and from India by sea rather than by land across Iraq and through Mosul.
A coffee house in Mosul, 1914.
1918 to 1990s
At the end of World War I in October 1918, after the signature of the Armistice of Mudros
, British forces occupied Mosul. After the war, the city and the surrounding area became part of the British-occupied Iraq (1918–1920) and shortly Mandatory Iraq
(1920–1932). This mandate was contested
by Turkey, which continued to claim the area based on the fact that it was under Ottoman control during the signature of the Armistice.
Mosul in 1932. The leaning minaret of Great Mosque of al-Nuri
gave the city its nickname "the hunchback" (الحدباء al-Ḥadbāˈ)
Mosul's fortunes revived with the discovery of oil
in the area, from the late 1920s onward. It became a nexus for the movement of oil via truck and pipeline to both Turkey
and Syria. Qyuarrah Refinery was built within about an hour's drive from the city and was used to process tar for road-building projects. It was damaged but not destroyed during the Iran–Iraq War
The opening of the University of Mosul
in 1967 enabled the education of many in the city and surrounding areas.
Although this prevented Saddam
's forces from mounting large-scale military operations again in the region, it did not stop the regime from implementing a steady policy of "Arabisation" by which the demography of some areas of Nineveh Governorate were gradually changed. Despite the program Mosul and its surrounding towns and villages remained home to a mixture of Arabs
, a few Jews
, and isolated populations of Yazidis
Saddam was able to garrison portions of the 5th Army within the city of Mosul, had Mosul International Airport
under military control, and recruited heavily from the city for his military's officer corps. This may have been due to the fact that most of the officers and generals of the Iraqi Army were from Mosul long before the Saddam regime era.
2003 American invasion
Saddam Hussein's sons Qusay
were killed in a gun battle in Mosul on July 22, 2003.
When the 2003 invasion of Iraq
was being planned, the United States had originally intended to base troops in Turkey and mount a thrust into northern Iraq to capture Mosul. The Turkish parliament refused to grant permission for the operation, however. When the Iraq War
did break out in March 2003, U.S. military activity in the area was confined to strategic bombing with airdropped special forces
operating in the vicinity. Mosul fell on 11 April 2003, when the Iraqi Army 5th Corps, loyal to Saddam, abandoned the city and eventually surrendered, two days after the fall of Baghdad. U.S. Army Special Forces with Kurdish fighters quickly took civil control of the city. Thereafter began widespread looting before an agreement was reached to cede overall control to U.S. forces.
On 22 July 2003, Saddam Hussein's sons, Uday Hussein
and Qusay Hussein
, were killed in a gun battle with Coalition forces in Mosul after a failed attempt at their apprehension.
Mosul also served as the operational base for the US Army
's 101st Airborne Division
during the occupational phase of the Operation Iraqi Freedom
. During its tenure, the 101st Airborne Division was able to extensively survey the city and, advised by the 431st Civil Affairs
Battalion, non-governmental organizations, and the people of Mosul, began reconstruction work by employing the people of Mosul in the areas of security, electricity, local governance, drinking water, wastewater, trash disposal, roads, bridges, and environmental concerns.
Other U.S. Army units to have occupied the city include the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Cavalry Division, the 172nd Stryker
Brigade, the 3rd Brigade-2nd Infantry Division
, 18th Engineer Brigade (Combat), Alpha Company 14th Engineer Battalion-555th Combat Engineer Brigade, 1st Brigade-25th Infantry Division
, the 511th Military Police Company, the 812th Military Police Company and company-size units from Reserve components
, an element of the 364th Civil Affairs Brigade, and the 404th Civil Affairs Battalion, which covered the areas north of the Green Line.[clarification needed]
The 67th Combat Support Hospital (CSH) Deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) from January 2004 to January 2005 running split based operations in Mosul and Tikrit. The Task Force (TF) 67 Headquarters and Company B operated out of Forward Operating Base (FOB) Diamondback (Mosul), and Company A operating out of FOB Speicher (Tikrit).
On 24 June 2004
, a coordinated series of car-bombs killed 62 people, many of them policemen.
On 21 December 2004, fourteen U.S. soldiers, four American employees of Halliburton
, and four Iraqi soldiers were killed in a suicide attack on a dining hall at the Forward Operating Base
(FOB) Marez next to the main U.S. military airfield at Mosul. The Pentagon
reported that 72 other personnel were injured in the attack carried out by a suicide bomber
wearing an explosive vest and the uniform of the Iraqi security services. The Islamist
group Army of Ansar al-Sunna
(partly evolved from Ansar al-Islam
) declared responsibility for the attack in an Internet statement.
In December 2007, Iraq reopened Mosul International Airport
. An Iraqi Airways
flight carried 152 Hajj
pilgrims to Baghdad, the first commercial flight since U.S. forces declared a no-fly zone in 1993, although further commercial flight remained prohibited.
On 23 January 2008, an explosion in an apartment building killed 36 people. The following day, a suicide bomber dressed as a police officer assassinated the local police chief, Brig. Gen. Salah Mohammed al-Jubouri, the director of police for Ninevah province, as he toured the site of the blast.
In May 2008, a military offensive of the Ninawa campaign
was launched by US-backed Iraqi Army Forces led by Maj. Gen. Riyadh Jalal Tawfiq, the commander of military operations in Mosul, in the hope of bringing back stability and security to the city.
Though the representatives of Mosul in the Iraqi Parliament
, the intellectuals of the city, and other concerned humanitarian groups agreed on the pressing need for a solution to the unbearable conditions of the city, they still believed that the solution was merely political and administrative. They also questioned whether such a large-scale military offensive would spare the lives of innocent people.
All these factors deprived the city of its historical, scientific and intellectual foundations in the last 4 years[clarification needed]
, when many scientists, professors, academics, doctors, health professionals, engineers, lawyers, journalists, religious clergy (both Muslims and Christians), historians, as well as professionals and artists in all walks of life, were either killed or forced to leave the city under the threat of being shot, exactly as happened elsewhere in Iraq in the years following 2003.
In 2008, many Assyrian Christians
(about 12,000) fled the city, following a wave of murders and threats
against their community. The murder of a dozen Assyrians, threats that others would be murdered unless they converted to Islam, and the destruction of their houses sparked a rapid exodus of the Christian population. Some families crossed the borders to Syria and Turkey while others were given shelter in churches and monasteries. Accusations were exchanged between Sunni fundamentalists and some Kurdish groups for being behind this new exodus. For the time being, the motivation of these acts is unclear, but some claims linked it to the imminent provincial elections that took place in January 2009, and the related Assyrian Christians' demands for broader representation in the provincial councils.
Mosul was attacked on 4 June 2014. After six days of fighting, on 10 June 2014, the Islamic State took over the city
during the June 2014 Northern Iraq offensive
By August 2014, the city's new ISIL administration was initially dysfunctional. with frequent power cuts, tainted water supply, collapse of infrastructure support, and failing health care.
Government by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)
This article needs to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (August 2018)
On June 10, 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
took control of Mosul
, after the Iraqi troops stationed there fled.
Troop shortages and infighting among top officers and Iraqi political leaders played into Islamic State's hands and fueled panic that led to the city's abandonment.
Kurdish intelligence had been warned by a reliable source in early 2014 that Mosul would be attacked by ISIL, and ex-Baathists
had informed the U.S. and the UK;
nonetheless, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki
and the Defence Minister turned down repeated offers of help from the Peshmerga
. Half a million people escaped on foot or by car during the next 2 days.
ISIL acquired three divisions' worth of up-to-date American arms and munitions—including M1129
Stryker 120-mm mortars and at least 700 armoured Humvee
vehicles from the then fleeing, or since massacred, Iraqi Army.
Many residents initially welcomed ISIL,
and according to a member of the UK's Defence Select Committee
, Mosul "fell because the people living there were fed up with the sectarianism
of the Shia dominated Iraqi government."
Iraqi soldiers drive past an ISIL sign in eastern Mosul, January 2017.
On 21 January 2015, the U.S. began coordinating airstrikes with a Kurdish-launched offensive, to help them begin the planned operation to retake the city of Mosul.
Once home to at least 70,000 Assyrian Christians
, there were possibly none left in Mosul following ISIL's takeover; any that did remain were forced to pay a tax for remaining Christian, and lived under the constant threat of violence.
Assyrians of ancient Mesopotamian ancestry, who have a history in the region dating back over 5,000 years, suffered their Christian churches and monasteries being vandalized and burned down,
their ancient Assyrian heritage sites dating back to the Iron Age
destroyed, and their homes and possessions seized by ISIL.
They also faced ultimatums to either convert to Islam, leave their ancient homelands, or be murdered.
According to western and pro-Iraqi government press, the residents of the city were de facto prisoners,
forbidden to leave the city unless they left ISIL a significant collateral of family members, personal wealth and property. They may then leave the city after paying a significant "departure tax"
for a three-day pass (for a higher fee they can surrender their home, pay the fee and leave for good) and if those with a three-day pass fail to return within that time, their assets would be seized and their family would be killed.
Most female Yazidis from Mosul and the greater Mosul region (Nineveh) were imprisoned and occasionally killed for resistance
to being sold as sex slaves.
Islamic State killed or expelled most minority groups and forcibly converted some Yazidi males and Christians to Islam. Women were required to cover their bodies from head to foot in a strict variant of Sharia rule, and men were required to fully grow their beards and hair in line with Islamic State edicts. Life in Mosul was one of violent oppression, where people suspected of activism against the occupiers, resistance activities, homosexuality, promiscuity or adultery were brutally and summarily tortured and murdered.
The ISIL governor of Mosul, Alian Natiq Mabroush was killed on 18 March 2016, along with ten other jihadist leaders, in a U.S. airstrike.
During the occupation, residents fought back against ISIL. In one notable incident, they were able to kill five ISIL militants and destroy two of their vehicles.
While the Islamic State ruled Mosul with an extreme monopolization of violence and committed many acts of terror within Mosul, some scholars argue that the Islamic State also had a highly efficient bureaucratic government that ran a highly functioning state within Mosul's borders via sophisticated diwans
Women were required to be accompanied by a male guardian
and wear clothing that covered their body completely, including gloves for the hands, niqab for the head, and khimar for the full coverage of the body from shoulders to feet.
Failure to follow the regulations was punished by fines or male relatives being given 40 or more lashes.
According to Canadian-based NGO the RINJ Foundation
, which operates medical clinics in Mosul,
rape cases in the city prove a pattern of genocide, and will lead to a conviction of genocide against the Islamic State, in the International Criminal Court
, a permanent international tribunal to prosecute individuals for war-time rape, genocide, crimes against humanity, and aggression.
In August 2015, ISIL was reported to be selling captured women and girls to sex slave
Persecution of religious and ethnic minorities and destruction of cultural sites
ISIL issued an edict expelling (in effect ethnically cleansing
) the remaining predominantly ethnic Assyrian
Christian Mosul citizens, after the Christians refused to attend a meeting to discuss their future status. According to Duraid Hikmat, an expert on minority relationships and resident of Mosul, the Christians were fearful to attend.
Emboldened ISIL authorities systematically destroyed
and vandalized Abrahamic
cultural artifacts, such as the cross from St. Ephrem's Cathedral, the tomb of Jonah
, and a statue of the Virgin Mary
. ISIL militants destroyed and pillaged the Tomb of Seth
in Mosul. Artifacts within the tomb were removed to an unknown location.
Students from Muslim Shia and Sufi minorities were also being abducted.
According to a UN report, ISIL forces persecuted ethnic groups in and near Mosul. The Assyrians, Kurds, Armenians, Yazidis, Turcoman, Mandeans, Kawliya and Shabaks were victims of unprovoked religiously motivated murders, assaults, theft, kidnappings, and the destruction of their cultural sites.
- Mosque of the Prophet Yunus or Younis (Jonah): On one of the two most prominent mounds of Nineveh ruins, used to rise the Mosque (an Assyrian Church year[clarification needed]) of Prophet Younis "Biblical Jonah". Jonah (Yonan) the son of Amittai, from the 8th century BC, is believed to be buried here, where King Esarhaddon of Assyria had once built a palace. It was one of the most important mosques in Mosul, and one of the few historic mosques that are found on the east side of the city. On 24 July 2014, the building was destroyed by explosives set by forces of Islamic State.
- Mosque of the Prophet Jerjis (Georges): The mosque is believed to be the burial place of Prophet Jerjis. Built of marble with shen reliefs and renovated last in 1393 AD it was mentioned by the explorer Ibn Jubair in the 12th century AD, and is believed also to embrace the tomb of Al-Hur bin Yousif.
- Mashad Yahya Abul Kassem: Built in the 13th century it was on the right bank of the Tigris and was known for its conical dome, decorative brickwork and calligraphy engraved in Mosul blue marble.
- Mosul library: Including the Sunni Muslim library, the library of the 265-year-old Latin Church and Monastery of the Dominican Fathers and the Mosul Museum Library. Among the 112,709 books and manuscripts thought lost are a collection of Iraqi newspapers dating from the early 20th century, as well as maps, books and collections from the Ottoman period; some were registered on a UNESCO rarities list. The library was ransacked and destroyed by explosives on 25 February 2015.
- Mosul Museum and Nergal Gate: Statues and artifacts that date from the Assyrian and Akkadian empires, including artefacts from sites including the Assyrian cities of Nineveh, Ashur, Arrapha, Dur-Sharrukin and Kalhu (Nimrud) and the Neo-Assyrian site of Hatra. Their plans for uprising were accelerated when IS scheduled the destruction of the al-Ḥadbā
- Turkish diplomats and consular staff were detained for over 100 days.
Scores of people were executed without fair trial.
Civilians living in Mosul were not permitted to leave ISIL-controlled areas. ISIL executed several civilians who tried to flee Mosul.
Iraqi army convoy in Mosul, 17 November 2016
The urban guerrilla warfare
groups may be called the Nabi Yunus Brigade after the Nabi Yunus mosque, or the Kataeb al-Mosul (Mosul Brigade).
The brigade claimed to have killed ISIL members with sniper fire.
In the countryside around Mosul, Kurdish and Assyrianmilitia
also took up arms to resist ISIL oppression, and successfully repelled ISIL attacks on Kurdish and Assyrian towns and villages.
Battle of Mosul (2016–2017)
After more than two years of ISIL occupation of Mosul, Iraqi, Kurdish, American and French forces launched a joint offensive to recapture the city on 16 October 2016.
The battle for Mosul was considered key in the military intervention against IS
Turkish warplanes participated in the coalition strikes on Mosul, amid the escalating dispute between Baghdad and Ankara about the Turkish presence in Bashiqa.
A military offensive to retake the city was the largest deployment of Iraqi forces since the 2003 invasion
by U.S. and coalition forces
On 9 July 2017, Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi
arrived in preparation to announce the full liberation of Mosul and reclamation of the city after three years of ISIL control.
A formal declaration was made on the next day.
The battle continued for another couple of weeks in the Old City, however, before Iraqi forces regained full control of Mosul on 21 July 2017.
(traditional market) in Mosul, 1932
According to Salahuddin Khuda Bakhsh, the Arab geographer Ibn Hawqal
was at Mosul in 358 (969 CE). He described it as a "fine town with excellent markets, surrounded by fertile districts of which the most celebrated was that round Nineveh where the prophet Jonah was buried. In the 4th (10th) century the population consisted chiefly of Kurds, and the numerous districts round Mosul, occupying all Diyir Rabi'ah, are carefully enumerated by Ibn Hawkal."
In 1813, regarding Mosul, James Playfair, the Author of the book 'A System of Geography: Ancient and Modern' states that "Mosul Is Chiefly Peopled by Curds
(Kurds), A Sober and industrious race". Nevertheless, Mosul has had various ethnic groups during its history. In 1923, half of its population was Kurd.
During the 20th century, Mosul had been indicative of the mingling ethnic and religious cultures of Iraq. There used to be a Sunni Arab
majority in urban areas, such as downtown Mosul west of the Tigris
; across the Tigris and further north in the suburban areas, thousands of Assyrians
made up the rest of Mosul's population. Shabaks
were concentrated on the eastern outskirts of the city.
Celebration at the Syriac Orthodox Monastery in Mosul, early 20th century
Mosul has a predominantly Sunni
population. This city had an ancient Jewish
population. Like their counterparts elsewhere in Iraq, most were forced out in 1950–51. Most Iraqi Jews
have moved to Israel, and some to the United States.
In 2003, during the Iraq War
, a rabbi in the American army found an abandoned, dilapidated synagogue in Mosul dating back to the 13th century.
During the IS occupation, religious minorities were targeted by IS to convert to Islam, pay tribute (jizya
) money, leave, or be killed.
The persecution of Christians in Mosul and the surrounding Nineveh Plains removed a Christian community that had been present in the region since the 1st century AD.
View of the Tigris
river in Mosul
The Mosul Dam
was built in the 1980s to supply Mosul with hydroelectricity and water. Despite this water supply cuts are still common
There are five bridges crossing the Tigris in Mosul, known from north to south as:
- Al Shohada Bridge (also known as "Third Bridge")
- Fifth Bridge
- Old Bridge (or "Iron Bridge", also known as "First Bridge")
- Al Huriya Bridge (literally: "Freedom Bridge", also known as "Second Bridge")
- Fourth Bridge
During the Battle of Mosul (2016–17)
and the Iraqi Army supported by an international coalition
, two bridges were 'damaged' by coalition airstrikes in October 2016, two others in November, and the Old Bridge was 'disabled' in early December.
According to the BBC in late December, the bridges were targeted to disrupt the resupply of ISIL forces in East Mosul from West Mosul.
In January 2017, CNN reported that ISIL itself had 'destroyed' all bridges to slow the Iraqi ground troops' advance, citing Iraqi commander Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Rasheed Yarallah.
During the last stages of battle to retake Mosul, Lise Grande
stated that per an initial assessment, basic infrastructure repair will cost over 1 billion USD
. She stated that while stabilization in east Mosul can be achieved in two months, in some districts of Mosul it might take years with six out of 44 districts almost completely destroyed. All districts of Mosul received light or moderate damage.
Per the United Nations
, 15 districts out of the 54 residential districts in the western half of Mosul were heavily damaged while at least 23 were moderately damaged.
Historical and religious buildings
Mosul is rich in old historical places and ancient buildings: mosques
, and schools
, many of which have architectural
features and decorative
work of significance. The town centre is dominated by a maze of streets and attractive 19th-century houses. There are old houses here of beauty. The markets are particularly interesting not simply for themselves alone but for the mixture of people who jostle there: Arabs
, Iraqi Jews
, Kurdish Jews
, Iraqi Turkmens
The Mosul Museum
contains many interesting finds from the ancient sites of the old Assyrian capital cities Nineveh and Nimrud
. The Mosul Museum is a beautiful old building, around a courtyard and with an impressive façade of Mosul marble containing displays of Mosul life depicted in tableau[clarification needed]
form. On February 26, 2015, IS militants destroyed
the ancient Assyrian artifacts of the museum.
Mosques and shrines
- Umayyad Mosque: The first ever in the city, built in 640 AD by Utba bin Farqad Al-Salami after he conquered Mosul in the reign of Caliph Umar ibn Al-Khattab. The only original part extant to recent times was the remarkably elaborate brickwork 52m high minaret that leans like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, called Al-Hadba (The Humped). It was largely destroyed during the Battle of Mosul.
- The Great (Nuriddin) Mosque: Built by Nuriddin Zangi in 1172 AD next door to the Umayyad Mosque. Ibn Battuta (the great Moroccan traveller) found a marble fountain there and a mihrab (the niche that indicates the direction of Mecca) with a Kufic inscription. It was destroyed during the Battle of Mosul.
- Mujahidi Mosque: The mosque dates back to 12th century AD, and is distinguished for its shen[clarification needed] dome and elaborately wrought mihrab.
- Prophet Younis Mosque and Shrine: Located east of the city, and included the tomb of Prophet Younis (Jonah), dating back to the 8th century BC, with a tooth of the whale that swallowed and later released him. It was completely demolished by IS in July 2014.
- Prophet Jirjis Mosque and Shrine: The late 14th century mosque and shrine honoring Prophet Jirjis (George) was built over the Quraysh cemetery. It was destroyed by IS in July 2014.
- Prophet Daniel Shrine: A Tomb attributed to Prophet Daniel was destroyed by IS in July 2014.
- Hamou Qado (Hema Kado) Mosque: An Ottoman-era mosque in the central Maydan area built in 1881, and officially named Mosque of Abdulla Ibn Chalabi Ibn Abdul-Qadi. It was destroyed by IS in March 2015 because it contained a tomb that was revered and visited by local Muslims on Thursdays and Fridays.
Churches and monasteries
Mosul had the highest proportion of Assyrian Christians of all the Iraqi cities outside of the Kurdish region, and contains several interesting old churches, some of which originally date back to the early centuries of Christianity. Its ancient Assyrian churches are often hidden and their entrances in thick walls are not easy to find. Some of them have suffered from overmuch restoration.
- Shamoun Al-Safa (St. Peter, Mar Petros): This church dates from the 13th century is and named after Shamoun Al-Safa or St. Peter (Mar Petros in Assyrian Aramaic). Earlier it had the name of the two Apostles, Peter and Paul, and was inhabited by the nuns of the Sacred Hearts.
- Church of St. Thomas (Mar Touma in Assyrian Aramaic): One of the oldest historical churches, named after St. Thomas the Apostle who preached the Gospel in the East, including India. The exact time of its foundation is unknown, but it was before 770 AD, since Al-Mahdi, the Abbasid Caliph, is mentioned as listening to a grievance concerning this church on his trip to Mosul.
- Mar Petion Church: Mar Petion, educated by his cousin in a monastery, was martyred in 446 AD. It is the first Chaldean Catholic church in Mosul, after the union of many Assyrians with Rome in the 17th century. It dates back to the 10th century, and lies 3 m below street level. This church suffered destruction, and it has been reconstructed many times. A hall was built on one of its three parts in 1942. As a result, most of its artistic features have been severely damaged.
- Ancient Tahira Church (The Immaculate): Near Bash Tapia, considered one of the most ancient churches in Mosul. No evidence helps to determine its exact area. It could be either the remnants of the church of the Upper Monastery or the ruined Mar Zena Church. Al-Tahira Church dates back to the 7th century, and it lies 3 m below street level. Reconstructed last in 1743.
- Al-Tahera Church: Syriac Catholic Church completed in 1862.
- Mar Hudeni Church: It was named after Mar Ahudemmeh (Hudeni) Maphrian of Tikrit who was martyred in 575 AD. Mar Hudeni is an old church of the Tikritans in Mosul. It dates back to the 10th century, lies 7 m below street level and was first reconstructed in 1970. People can get mineral water from the well in its yard. The chain, fixed in the wall, is thought to cure epileptics.
- St. George's Monastery (Mar Gurguis): One of the oldest churches in Mosul, named after St. George, located to the north of Mosul, was probably built late in the 17th century. Pilgrims from different parts of the North[clarification needed] visit it yearly in the spring, when many people also go out to its whereabouts on holiday.[clarification needed] It is about 6 m below street level. A modern church was built over the old one in 1931, abolishing much of its archeological significance. The only monuments left are a marble door-frame decorated with a carved Estrangelo (Syriac) inscription, and two niches, which date back to the 13th or 14th century.
- Mar Matte: This famous monastery is situated about 20 km (12 mi) east of Mosul on the top of a high mountain (Mount Maqloub). It was built by Mar Matte, a monk who fled with several other monks in 362 AD from the Monastery of Zuknin near the City of Amid (Diyarbakir) in the southern part of Asia Minor (modern Turkey) and the north of Iraq during the reign of Emperor Julian the Apostate (361–363 AD). It has a precious library containing Syrianic scriptures.
- Monastery of Mar Behnam: Also called Deir Al-Jubb (The Cistern Monastery) and built in the 12th or 13th century, it lies in the Nineveh Plain near Nimrud about 32 km (20 mi) southwest of Mosul. The monastery, a great fort-like building, rises next to the tomb of Mar Behnam, a prince who was killed by the Sassanians, perhaps during the 4th century AD. A legend made him a son of an Assyrian king.
- St. Elijah's Monastery (Dair Mar Elia): Dating from the 6th century, it was the oldest Christian Monastery in Iraq, until its destruction by IS in January 2016.
Other Christian historical buildings:
- The Roman Catholic Church (built by the Dominican Fathers in Nineveh Street in 1893)
- Mar Michael
- Mar Elias
- Mar Oraha
- Rabban Hormizd Monastery, the monastery of Notre-Dame des Semences, near the Assyrian town of Alqosh
- Bash Tapia Castle: A ruined castle rising high over the Tigris, which was one of the few remnants of Mosul's old walls until it was blown up by IS in 2015.
- Qara Serai (The Black Palace): The remnants of the 13th-century palace of Sultan Badruddin Lu'lu'.
The so-called Mosul School of Painting refers to a style of miniature painting that developed in northern Iraq in the late 12th to early 13th century under the patronage of the Zangid
dynasty (1127–1222). In technique and style the Mosul school was similar to the painting of the Seljuq
Turks, who controlled Iraq at that time, but the Mosul artists had a sharper sense of realism based on the subject matter and degree of detail in the painting rather than on representation in three dimensions, which did not occur. Most of the Mosul iconography was Seljuq—for example, the use of figures seated cross-legged in a frontal position. Certain symbolic elements, however, such as the crescent and serpents, were derived from the classical Mesopotamian repertory.
Most Mosul paintings were manuscript illustrations—mainly scientific works, animal books, and lyric poetry. A frontispiece
painting, now held in the Bibliothèque nationale
, Paris, dating from a late 12th century copy of Galen
's medical treatise, the Kitab al-diriyak ("Book of Antidotes"), is a good example of the earlier work of the Mosul school. It depicts four figures surrounding a central, seated figure who holds a crescent-shaped halo. The painting is in a variety of whole hues; reds, blues, greens, and gold. The Küfic
lettering is blue. The total effect is best described as majestic.
Another mid-13th century frontispiece held in the Nationalbibliothek
, Vienna, to another copy of the same text suggests the quality of later Mosul painting. There is realism in its depiction of the preparation of a ruler's meal and of horsemen engaged in various activities, and the painting is as many hued as that of the early Mosul school, yet it is somehow less spirited. The composition is more elaborate but less successful. By this time the Baghdad school, which combined the styles of the Syrian and early Mosul schools, had begun to dominate. With the invasion of the Mongols in the mid-13th century the Mosul school came to an end, but its achievements were influential in both the Mamluk and the Mongol schools of miniature painting.
Mosul has several universities and colleges. These include the University of Mosul
, which is the largest university in Mosul,
Ninevah University, Al-Hadbaa University College, and the Northern Technical University.
Mosul also has multiple highschools some of which are coeducational while others are gender segregated. These include but are not limited to:
- Al-Hafsah School
- Al-Haj Secondary School for Girls
- Kourtoba High School for Girls
- Al-Mouhobeen Secondary School for Boys and Girls
- Al-Mustaqbal High School for Boys
- Al-Mutamaizat High School for Girls
- Al-Mutamaizeen High School for Boys
- Al-Resalah Al-Islamia (Al-Resalah) High School for Boys
- Al-Sharqiya High School for Boys
The city has one football
team capable of competing in the top-flight of Iraqi football – Mosul FC
- Yousif Dhanoon [ar] (يوسف ذنون), Arabic calligrapher who designed and executed many inscriptions in mosques throughout the Islamic world.
- Zaha Hadid, World-famous architect and first woman to win the Pritzker award. Was named "dame" by Queen Elizabeth II.
- Al Jalili, Hussein Pasha, raised and led army to defend Mosul against Persian Shah Nadir Shah, 1743.
- Al Jalili, Ismael, Eye doctor who discovered and researched the Jalili syndrome.
- Al Jamil, Sayyar, Historian and political analyst.
- Abu Al Soof, Behnam, Archeologist, anthropologist, historian and writer of Christian ancestry.
- Tariq Aziz, Assyrian Deputy Prime Minister 1979–2003 (real name Michael Youkhanna) (from Tel Keppe)
- Munir Bashir, Assyrian musician and famous musician in the Mideast during the 20th century
- Asenath Barzani, first Jewish female rabbi
- Vian Dakhil, Yazidi member of the Iraqi parliament.
- Hawar Mulla Mohammed, Kurdish Iraqi soccer player for the national team
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- Taha Yassin Ramadan, Kurdish former Vice President of Iraq
- Hormuzd Rassam, Assyrian Archaeologist and diplomat of the 19th century
- Kathem Al Saher, Arab Iraqi pop singer, songwriter, and musician
- Salah al-Din al-Sabbagh, Arab Iraqi Army officer
- Salah Salim Ali, Norwegian Iraqi Writer and translator, author of Ibsen i Arabia.
- Ignatius Gabriel I Tappouni, Assyrian Patriarch of Antioch and all east for the Syriac Catholic Church between 1929 and 1968, Church Father of the Second Vatican Council and the first Eastern Rite prelate to be raised to the College of Cardinals since the reign of Pope Pius IX
- Behnam Afas, Iraqi-New Zealander author and researcher into the role of Christian scholars and missionaries
- Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer, Arab Interim President of Iraq during 2004–05
- Ignatius Zakka I, Assyrian Patriarch of Antioch and all east for the Syriac Orthodox Church
- Mosul Eye, Mosul Eye (Arabic: عين الموصل) is a news blog created and maintained by historian and citizen journalist Omar Mohammed.
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