2017 Finalist

Mosul Exodus

Jan Grarup

Book Award Years


  • Amnon Gutman
  • Fabian Muir
  • Alessio Romenzi
  • Jan Grarup

The Battle of Mosul to retake the city from the Islamic State (ISIL) is a joint offensive by Iraqi government forces with allied militias, and international forces. The offensive, dubbed Operation "We Are Coming, Nineveh," began on October 16, 2016 with forces besieging ISIL controlled areas in the Governorate surrounding Mosul. The battle for Mosul is considered key in the fight against ISIL, which seized the city in June 2014. Outnumbering ISIL forces 10 to 1, Iraqi forces are experiencing their largest deployment since the 2003 war in Iraq. The offensive began with Iraqi troops and Kurdish fighters engaging ISIL on three fronts outside Mosul, going from village to village in the surrounding area. More than 120 towns and villages were liberated from ISIL control in the first two weeks of fighting. At dawn on November 1st, the Golden Division Iraqi forces entered the city on the eastern front. The Iraqi advance into the city was met with fierce fighting and was slowed by elaborate defenses, including road blocks, booby traps, suicide bombers and snipers, and by the presence of civilians. More than 800.000 civilians were trapped in the city, caught between being held hostage by ISIL and used as human shields or besieged by the Iraqi army and the constant fierce battles. Forced into an Exodus, many tried to escape but found themselves caught in the fighting, with many wounded and killed. Often, they were directly targeted by ISIL mortar fire behind the frontlines as they tried to get to safety. The areas already liberated are often destroyed and left burning by ISIL, who had two years to prepare for the offensive.


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