Iraqi Bridge Is Sole Link For Mosul Residents Rebuilding Lives
On a pontoon bridge connecting East and West Mosul, residents of a city shattered by the battle to expel Islamic State cross back and forth trying to rebuild their lives from the rubble.
The temporary structure, known as the Victory Bridge, is the only crossing over the Tigris River in the city itself. Other bridges, including the landmark Iron Bridge, were wrecked in nine months of urban warfare which saw Iraqi government forces fight the militants street-by-street and house-by-house.
With Mosul back in government hands, hundreds of people stream over each day to check homes in the devastated west side, salvage belongings or find a place to stay in the east.
All have tales of hardship and suffering under three years of Islamic State rule and, despite their relief that is over, now they are worried about their present predicament and the future.
Many people from West Mosul, where whole neighborhoods were flattened in air and artillery strikes by a U.S.-led coalition, are struggling to pay rent in temporary accommodation. Often they have no work and are running out of funds.
Civilians must walk across the bridge, which was erected for military purposes. Taxis halt on the east side about half a km (mile) away for soldiers to check papers.
The city of Mosul was declared liberated on July 10 by the Iraqi premier. In total, 80 percent of the city as a whole has reportedly suffered damage or been destroyed by fighting, leaving behind a mammoth task of rebuilding.
What remains in the city are largely rows of collapsed shop fronts and houses ruined from airstrikes and artillery attacks. Faced with this level of destruction, rebuilding seems an arduous task.