For nearly 2½ miles along the western bank of the Tigris River, hardly a single building is intact. The warren of narrow streets of Mosul’s Old City is a crumpled landscape of broken concrete and metal. Every acre is weighed down by more than 3,000 tons of rubble, much of it laced with explosives and unexploded ordnance.
It will take years to haul away the wreckage, and this is just one corner of the destruction. The Iraqi military and U.S.-led coalition succeeded in uprooting the Islamic State group across the country, but the cost of victory is nearly incalculable.
Three years of war devastated much of northern and western Iraq. Baghdad estimates $100 billion is needed nationwide to rebuild. Local leaders in Mosul, the biggest city held by IS, say that amount is needed to rehabilitate their city alone.