After nine months of vicious street-to-street fighting to drive the Islamic State out of Mosul, it could take many years more to fully remove explosives and other munitions from one of Iraq’s most populous cities, U.S. State Department officials said.
“When I look around the world in some ways there’s nothing like Mosul that we’ve encountered.” said Stanley Brown, the director of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement. “The level of contamination though is not one of those where we’re talking weeks and months, we’re talking years and maybe decades.”
Over three years of occupation, the Islamic State mined and booby-trapped large sections of Mosul. Heavy combat has also littered the city with unexploded ordnance such as artillery shells and hand grenades. In the western reaches of the city, where the fighting was especially fierce, massive debris fields will need to be removed to clear the ground beneath.