HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: Just over three years ago, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi ascended the pulpit of Mosul’s grand mosque and proclaimed an ISIS caliphate, or Islamic state, stretching from Iraq to Syria. Now, that mosque lies in ruins, and ISIS’s stronghold in Syria, the city of Raqqa, is under siege by American-backed militias.
“Reuters” reporter Stephen Kalin is in Mosul and joins me now via Skype.
So, how significant was this moment?
STEPHEN KALIN, REPORTER, REUTERS: Very significant. This is — we’re getting very close to the end of nearly nine-month battle. There are still a small pocket of territory in Mosul that Islamic State controls those, but we really expect that to be finally be done tomorrow.
SREENIVASAN: What happens now?
KALIN: Well, now, in Mosul, the city has to start rebuilding. A lot of the city had been destroyed. I talked to the United Nations a few days ago, and they told me that just the initial stages of rebuilding, getting public infrastructure working again, which will take about a year and cost more than $1 billion. And on top of that, I mean, there’s much more long term reconstruction that has to happen.
The — all the five bridges inside Mosul are destroyed. Most of the old city is in ruins and other parts of the city are heavily damaged. People’s homes are destroyed and people have been living three years under brutal rule, so they have to really, you know, readjust to being back part of Iraq.
SREENIVASAN: Even if you rebuilt all the infrastructure, what about all the people that have left?
KALIN: Yes. I mean, there are a lot of people who have fled. When ISIS came, a few hundred thousand people left the city, before they sort of shut down any avenue to escape. So, when the battle began nine months ago, there were — we estimated about one and a half million people inside the city. Of that 900,000 people were displaced. About a third of that was to camps outside of the city. The rest were to other houses, you know, relatives’ homes, friends’ homes inside the city.
So, most of the population actually stayed inside the city. But now, they’re going to have to find way to rebuild their homes that were destroyed and, you know, get back to a normal life.
SREENIVASAN: While a big city — this is just one city, there are still lots of cities that are under ISIS control, smaller ones.
KALIN: Yes, there are a number of smaller cities to the south and west of Mosul, and we’re expecting that the military campaign will continue with the help of the U.S.-led coalition. The battle is not over against ISIS by any stretch in Iraq. And in addition to those cities, we expect that there will be an insurgency, that there will be asymmetrical terrorist type attacks in Mosul and other parts of Iraq. So, it — really stabilizing Iraq will continue to be an important mission for the security forces.
SREENIVASAN: All right. Stephen Kalin of “Reuters”, joining us via Skype from Erbil tonight, thanks so much.
KALIN: Thank you.