Iraqi prime minister celebrates with Mosul orphans the fifth anniversary of the city’s liberation

Iraq’s Prime Minister Mostafa al-Kazemi has celebrated with the orphaned children of Mosul the fifth anniversary of the liberation of the country’s second largest city, captured by Islamic State in 2014, at the beginning of one of the most terrifying periods experienced by the population.

Al Kazemi has commemorated this past Saturday the Eid al Adha holiday with two hundred “sons of the martyrs of Mosul”, whom he invited to a restaurant in the city of the city’s restaurants. There, the prime minister applauded the children and their families, whom he described as “the pillar of the country and the builders of its future,” according to the official news agency INA.

“This government is going to take care of you, as the children you are of the martyrs who sacrificed their lives,” the Iraqi prime minister added.

Al Kazemi has also visited the city’s university, as well as several infrastructure and reconstruction projects, such as the iconic Al Nuri Mosque, blown up five years ago by jihadists.

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The Umayyad temple, which dated back to the 12th century, was the scene of the proclamation of the Islamic State’s Caliphate in 2014, in an act starring its leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. However, it was destroyed three years later by the Islamic State itself in the face of advancing Iraqi government forces who finally put an end to territorial rule and the Caliphate itself in the months that followed.

Hundreds of thousands of people had to flee their homes in the face of the advance of Islamic State, which decided to raze the city to the ground completely during the culmination of its conquest on July 10, 2014, at the beginning of three years of fundamentalist rule plagued by executions, forced displacement, torture, and virtually the full spectrum of abuses.

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NGOs such as Doctors Without Borders have hailed the anniversary as a positive stage in the rebuilding of a city that “has undergone radical changes in the last five years,” according to Sahir Dawood, MSF’s health promoter in the city.

“The first time I went back, right after the end of the battle, I felt like a ghost town. I looked to my right, to my left, and all I saw was rubble, destroyed buildings and empty streets, with a few exhausted people here and there. But now, when I go around town, I see people working and going out. I see buildings standing, street lamps lit at night,” he says.

Today, bridges that were destroyed during the war have been reopened and west and east Mosul have been reconnected. Over the past five years, people living in Mosul have seen the streets change as barriers and checkpoints have been gradually removed, a sign of increased security.

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