They were pushed out of this very city over two years ago by a barbaric force that has since shaken the conscience of the world community. Today, as the dawn of a cold November morning broke through the dust of the desert, Iraqi military forces entered the city of Mosul forcing the Islamic State to its last stand in Iraq.
The biggest prize for the Iraqi forces, the tenacious Peshmerga fighters and those backing the two in this long war against the Islamic State is believed to be hiding somewhere in Mosul – ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
If the Mosul siege is successful, it will be the biggest blow ever to the Islamic State.
Mosul acts as a de facto capital of the IS. This northern Iraqi city, around 200 kilometres from Baghdad, is from where the Islamic State maintains control over the territories it seized in the Levant region.
So, obviously, the city is important to the ISIS and, therefore, retaking it is going to be the most difficult for the forces. There are between 3000-5000 IS fighters inside Mosul.
But the military knows well that the Islamic State fighters will do everything to defend the city. Reports from ground zero say that the security forces were welcomed with car bombs – not one but an entire chain of them.
In videos from the action, sharpshooters of the Iraqi armed forces can be seen taking down the cars very effectively before they do any significant damage.
Car bombs are one of the many tactics used by the terrorist organisation. Tunnels, booby traps and IEDs along the road are what the forces are especially cautious about.
As the forces slowly tighten their grip on the throat of the Islamic State, the barbarians, knowing that this could end with their deaths, have started using the people of Mosul as human shields. The people were the ones who were forced to stay back by the Islamic State.
The Mosul offensive will be the decisive war against the future of the Islamic State. The combined ground force of the Peshmerga and the Iraqi army backed by the US air support, is steadily moving in from key sides of the city.
Armoured vehicles are at the front to both act as a bulwark against enemy offensive and do the maximum damage possible before the infantry moves in to clear the area.
The forces are being careful not to harm the civilians. Many of the civilians are fleeing the city as the military moves in inch-by-inch. They are being sent to camps under the watch of the military.
But this has created a new fear. Wolfgang Gressmann of the Norwegian Refugee Council said its staff were “now bracing… for the worst” as the battle for the city intensified.
“The lives of 1.2 million civilians are in grave danger, and the future of all of Iraq is now in the balance,” he added.
The Islamic State are such barbarians that they are using women and children as human shields who can die in the military operation.
Yesterday, the military had took control of Gogjali, a village just outside Mosul opening the way to the city itself.
— Hamdi (@HamdiAlkhshali) 1 November 2016
The Islamic State will fall. It is but a matter of time. What is concerning for human rights and anti-war bodies is the number of civilian deaths. What is important for the military is Baghdadi and the end of all his men.
On Monday night just south of Mosul, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had warned Islamic State: “There is no way to escape, either surrender or die. We will cut the head (off) the snake.”
It shows the determination of the military as well as the extent they are ready to go end the barbarians once and for all.