The campaign to reclaim Mosul is underway.
Two years after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) captured Iraq's second largest urban area, a rejuvenated Iraqi government is standing firm on Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi's declaration that the city's liberation is near.
The atmosphere inside Mosul is a mixed one. Food and related resources are being stashed away in preparation for months of heavy fighting. Walls have been vandalized with resistance slogans.
Meanwhile, Islamic State (IS) officials and fighters are busy fortifying the group's covert tunnel linkages. The extremist faction is very much concerned about the drone attacks being employed by American military advisers.
Months of reconnoitering and positioning have prepared Iraqi troops to engage the ISIL and free the million-plus dwellers in the city. Artillery bombardments begin to fall a few miles from the urban location. Armored cars and trucks inch within striking distance.
Although the ISIL has been reeling from multiple attacks on its fronts, it cannot be denied that Mosul's perimeter continues to be under heavy restrictions. With the security tight, residents find it hard to escape out of the city. People caught leaving or resisting are either beheaded or end up being fined that amounted up to a million dinars.
According to Reuters, around 58 individuals have met their doom in connection with the botched plan to overrun the rule of an official close to IS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi earlier this month.
Meantime, the US military has cited that about 3,000 to 4,500 fighters are scaling the city walls. The situation inside is tense considering that more and more residents are rebelling against the extremist organization.
The cruel rule under Al-Baghdadi's group has spearheaded most of the population to fight back. This present approach is in direct contrast to what happened in Mosul last June 2014 when a small band of ISIL rebels had been welcomed by the Sunni dwellers. At that time, the Islamic State has been viewed upon as savior who will eradicate abuse caused by the Shiite-controlled government.
However, the dominance of the rebels will eventually lead to a chaotic administration that saw the lives of common Iraqis turn for the worst. Islamic directives, which include summary executions against political foes, whippings over missed prayers and the destruction of historical artifacts, have driven many residents to flee Mosul at their own risk.
According to Omar Fadil Al-Alaf, head of the resistance faction Suraya Rimah, revenge against the extremist rulers is on the minds of many who suffered heavily under ISIL rule.
Further compounding the troubles in Mosul is the economic difficulties where basic services such as electricity and water are being denied to many Iraqis. Even the morale of IS fighters have plummeted due to the enforcement of pay cuts.
Weeks of airstrikes from Coalition forces have been welcomed by the city dwellers. The campaign has been effective considering that senior officers in Al-Baghdadi's circle are being targeted.
According to Lise Grande, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, the Mosul operation will be a complicated event since a million civilians will need to flee from their homes.