A Short Visual History of Mosul


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The clock tower of the Dominican Mission Church in Mosul, built in the 1870s, was a gift from Empress Eugenie of France. The ancient city is almost 3,000 years old and has historically been important for trading. Located in northern Iraq near the borders of Syria and Turkey, it’s situated on the Tigris river and set amid rich oil fields.
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This print of Mosul is from the 1930s, when Iraq was a kingdom occupied by the British.
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Among the many activities on the Tigris River in Mosul was wool washing.
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The souks, or markets, of Mosul hummed with activity every day.
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The famous leaning minaret of Mosul’s 12th-century Great Mosque of al-Nuri towers in the background of this photo taken in the 1930s.
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Lady Surma was the sister of the patriarch of the Assyrian Christian church in Mosul and became an ambassador for her people.
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The British writer Agatha Christie arrived at this railway station in Mosul. Agatha Christie spent time in Mosul in the early 1950s while her husband, the archaeologist Max Mallowan, excavated the ancient site of Nimrud.

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Two women look out over the Tigris from the 12th-century Bashtabiya Castle, a big part of Mosul’s identity. ISIS destroyed the castle last year, according to the Iraqi Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.
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President Saddam Hussein waves to supporters from the balcony of the mayor’s office in Mosul on a trip to see how farmers were faring under international sanctions.
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A boy begs for money in 1996. By then, Iraq was reeling under punishing international sanctions and widespread corruption.
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The mosque of the prophet Yunus (Arabic for Jonah from the Bible) stood on one of the two most prominent mounds of Nineveh’s ruins and served at one time as an Assyrian Church. It contained Jonah’s tomb and was destroyed by ISIS in 2014.
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In this 2001 photo, a man stands before the Great Mosque’s minaret, which leans like the Tower of Pisa and is nicknamed “al-Habda,” or “the hunchback.”
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Kurds mingle with the crowds in central Mosul in 2002, just a few months before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
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Children at a school in Mosul in 2002. ISIS developed its own curriculum after it took control of the city in 2014.
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Crowds gathered in Mosul in February 2003 to protest US threats of invasion.
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A teenage boy tends to a herd of sheep on the outskirts of Mosul in 2003.
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The lake in Saddam Hussein’s palace was off-limits to Mosul’s ordinary citizens until the dictator was toppled in April 2003.
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The University of Mosul is the second-largest in Iraq and boasted a rich tradition of learning. ISIS militants destroyed thousands of books and manuscripts housed at the university and developed a new curriculum.
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Fierce clashes erupted in Mosul in the summer of 2003, and US soldiers found themselves in the midst of urban warfare.
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Iraqi police patrolled the city in 2005.
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This children’s clothing factory in Mosul was operating after reconstruction efforts in 2007
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Moslawis walk past trash strewn about a busy market area in Mosul in 2009.
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ISIS fighters parade down a main road in a commandeered Iraqi security forces vehicle after the militant group took control of Mosul in June 2014.
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ISIS destroyed ancient Christian shrines and churches like this 13th-century church in the Assyrian town of Telskuf, not far from Mosul in the Nineveh plains.
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Iraqis displaced from ISIS-controlled towns and villages take shelter at this camp in Qayyarah, a few miles south of Mosul. Aid workers warn an assault on Mosul could trigger an exodus of catastrophic dimensions.
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Kurdish children play on a broken ferris wheel in Mosul, a month before the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
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ISIS destroyed statue of Arab poet Abu Tammam in Mosul 2014.
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Members of ISIS destroying ancient statues in the Mosul Museum 2014.
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U.S Airstrike destroyed the old bridge of Mosul 2017.
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ISIS blew up famous Mosul mosque 2017.

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