From the struggle of prolonged urban warfare, to the thrill of victory and the brutal aftermath, VOA brings you to three cities – Mosul and Tal Afar in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria – for an inside look at what happens when cities fall.
On a recent trip to west Mosul, we couldn't enter the Old City, now an uninhabitable wasteland, because militants who had been hiding out for months ambushed Iraqi Federal Police a few hours before.
As we drove around town we saw new checkpoints every few blocks, manned by various Iraqi fighting forces. Shia flags adorned some of the posts in what is an almost exclusively Sunni city, as Islamic State has killed or forced out most minorities. Traffic was thick; someone in an ambulance cleared a path by firing bullets into the air. None of this is strange now in Mosul.