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On July 10, 2017, after months of fighting, the Iraqi government declared the city of Mosul fully liberated from ISIS, although fierce fighting continued in pockets of the city. Mosul had fallen to ISIS three years earlier, and the battle to retake it had begun in October 2016.
In effect, the reconquering of Mosul comprised two parts: the battle for the eastern half of the city, and that for the west, across the Tigris River. East Mosul was recaptured by the end of January 2017, but the offensive on west Mosul, particularly the densely built-up Old City, proved more difficult. Large areas of the city were left in ruins, and huge numbers of civilians were caught in the crossfire as battle raged.
A United Nations report gives an absolute minimum of 4,194 civilian casualties during the conflict, with other sources putting the figure much higher. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights pointed to extensive use of civilians as human shields, with ISIS fighters attempting to use the presence of civilian hostages to make certain areas immune from military operations.
After months of being trapped in the last remaining ISIS-held areas of the city, the people in west Mosul were severely short of food and water. Those who chose to remain in the city rather than go to one of the many camps for displaced people, initially relied on aid in order to survive.
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