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Mosul (Iraq)
Coordinates 36 ° 21 '  N , 43 ° 9'  E Coordinates: 36 ° 21 '  N , 43 ° 9'  E
Country IraqIraq Iraq
Governorate Ninawa
Basic data
height 228  m
Residents 2,882,442 (January 1, 2010)
prefix 40 (city), 964 (country)
Tigris river Mosul.jpg

Mosul (or Mosul , Arabic الموصل, DMG al-Mauṣil ; Kurdish مووسڵ Musil ; Syrian-Aramaic : ܢܝܢܒ݂ܐ Nîněwâ ) is a city in northern Iraq on the right bank of the Tigris , about 350 kilometers north of Baghdad . With around 2.9 million inhabitants (2010 calculation), it is the second largest city in the country after Baghdad. Mosul is the capital of Ninawa Province , which is one of the disputed areas between the Kurdistan Autonomous Region and the central government of Iraq. After the Islamic State captured Mosul in June 2014, it was the largest city in its hands. Most Christian residents left the city after the threat of mass murder by IS. In the battle for Mosul from October 17, 2016 to July 9, 2017, the city was completely retaken by coalition forces and badly damaged in the course of the fighting.

A Yezidi temple (destroyed long before ISIS invasion) on the left and the minaret of the Great Mosque of an-Nuri on the right in Mosul (1932)


Ethnic composition

Mosul was a multiethnic and multireligious city: Arabs , Kurds , Assyrians (also called Aramaeans and Chaldeans), Turkmens and Yazidis lived here.

The demography has since changed in favor of the Arab population. Kurds blame Saddam Hussein's policy of Arabization, and Christian Assyrians and Chaldeans, the invasion of the Islamic State .

Because of the insecurity resulting from the Iraq war in 2003, many people left the city. Christians in particular have left Mosul after targeted attacks. There are no exact statistics of the population living in the city today.


Most of the residents of Mosul are Sunni Muslims, with the majority of them being Arabs and the minority being Kurds.

Mosul looks back on a 1600 year old Christian tradition. Until recently, the city was the seat of several archbishops of Eastern Churches of Syriac-speaking tradition (see also: Christians in Iraq ). The cathedral of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and at the same time the oldest church in the city is the St. Thomas Cathedral from the year 640, less than 100 m from the St. Thomas Church of the Syrian Catholic Church of the same name, which opened in 1863 . The cathedral of the latter, however, was the Syrian Catholic al-Tahira Cathedral (Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception) from the 17th century, which was almost completely destroyed in 2017 but is to be rebuilt. The Chaldean Catholic Church, in turn, had its bishopric in the medieval Mart Meskinta Church until it was relocated to the 18th century Chaldean al Tahira Cathedral in the 1980s .

After the conquest of Mosul by fighters from the ISIS or Islamic State group , the Christian residents were given the choice of either leaving the city, converting to Islam or being executed. The vast majority of Christians then left Mosul at the end of July, so that the Christian tradition of the city has come to an end for the time being. According to Archbishop Louis Raphaël I. Sako , 25,000 Christians were still living in Mosul when ISIS came to power; according to the BBC , the figure was as high as 35,000.

The Syrian Catholic Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa , who was kidnapped on 17 January 2005, was released on without paying ransoms day. The Armenian church building was badly damaged by an act of terrorism in 2004; At the beginning of 2006, Archbishop Avag Asadurian received a promise from President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jafari that the church would be rebuilt. Near Mosul, the Syrian Orthodox Church maintains the St. Ephrem Seminary for the training of priests and the next generation of the church. The current abbot is the Archbishop Mar Saverius Ishak Saka (* 1931).

On February 2, 2015, terrorists from the Islamic State in Mosul blew up one of the largest and oldest Chaldean Catholic churches in Iraq, the Church of the Virgin Mary . In April 2016, the historic Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Hour from the 19th century was destroyed.


Armenians in Mosul who fled Ottoman deportation trains during the genocide
Market scene from Mosul from 1932


Around 850 BC, King Aššur-nâṣir-apli II named the city of Nimrud the capital of the Assyrian Empire . This was about 30 kilometers from present-day Mosul. Originating as a small village, Mosul took over the function of a bridge city on the Tigris and thus connected Anatolia and the Median Empire . Around 612 BC the Median king Kyaxares II conquered Nineveh and thus also the city of Mosul in an alliance with Babylon under Nabopolassar . After the invasion of Alexander the Great and his later death, the city became part of the Seleucid Empire , only to be conquered by the Parthians 200 years later .

Between the 8th and 20th centuries: changing rulers

Mosul was an important economic center since the 8th century, in the 10th century the Hamdanids ruled over Mosul and were replaced by the Uqailids in the 11th century . In the 12th century it was the stronghold of the Zengids fighting against the Crusaders , in the 13th century Mongols conquered and destroyed the city. After the reconstruction it became a regional center again without being able to build on its former importance. 1400 Mosul was conquered by Timur Lenk . In the early 16th century, Mosul belonged to the rule of the Turkmen tribal union of the Ak Koyunlu , and in 1508 the Safavids took it . In 1535 the Ottomans under Suleyman the Magnificent conquered the city. By the middle of the 19th century, Mosul temporarily flourished under a short-lived, but largely autonomous governor dynasty ( Jalilids ).

The city and the surrounding area were occupied by Great Britain after the First World War . The Turkey but claimed the area continue. During the negotiations in Lausanne, Ismet Inönü continued to demand that Mosul belong to Turkey. At the end of the negotiations, the question was not finally resolved. The following negotiations between Great Britain and Turkey in 1924 were unsuccessful, whereupon Great Britain asked the League of Nations for a solution. The League of Nations , to which Turkey was not a member, set up a commission to clarify the claims and drafted a compromise proposal. In September 1925 the League Council confirmed the result of the Mosul Commission and awarded the disputed oil area to the British mandate of Iraq . The UK rejected Turkey's call to hold a referendum in Mosul on its future. In the 1926 treaty between Great Britain and Turkey, Turkey was forced to cede Mosul, especially since Kurdish uprisings in eastern Anatolia weakened Turkey at the same time.

Several Kurds have repeatedly claimed the city as part of their homeland. B. 1938 at the League of Nations in Geneva and also in 1945 at the Conference of San Francisco . In April 2015, the Kurdish President Masud Barzani reaffirmed this claim by offering the Kurdish Peshmerga to help liberate the city, provided that the Kurds play an important role in the city's administration after the victory against IS.

21st century

Map of the districts of Mosul
Mosul in January 2020, marked by destruction

On July 22, 2003 (at the time of the occupation of Iraq ), Udai and Kusai Hussein , the sons of the ousted President Saddam Hussein , were killed in a skirmish with US special forces in Mosul .

In December 2006, Sunni extremists from the terrorist organization Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) proclaimed the Islamic emirate of Iraq in Mosul, the capital of which was to become Mosul. A so-called war ministry announced its orders by means of leaflets. Since then, terror in Mosul has increased significantly: police officers, journalists and women without headscarves have been threatened and murdered, as have owners of small photo studios (according to the “Ministry of War”, the depiction of living beings contradicts Islam). Reports that, for example, “male” cucumbers should be stored separately from “female” tomatoes turned out to be “urban legends”.

At the beginning of June 2014, the Islamic State , which had previously been active in the Syrian civil war and had already taken control of parts of the Iraqi province of al-Anbar at the beginning of the year , launched an attack on Mosul. IS commander Abu Abdulrahman al-Bilawi was killed in the attack. On June 10, 2014, the IS fighters had the city completely under their control. The city was very important to IS because of its oil refineries.

Under the control of the terrorists, the statues of the Abbasid poet Abu Tammam (788-845) and the Iraqi musician and poet ʻUthman al-Mawsili (1854-1923) were destroyed, as was the statue of Mary on the tower of the cathedral of the Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese . The tomb of the historian Ibn al-Athīr (1160-1223) was also destroyed. Christian residents were given the choice of fleeing, converting to Islam, or being executed. Most of the Christians then left the city at the end of July 2014. Life in the city followed the rules of IS. Women were no longer allowed to move unaccompanied; houses inhabited by Christians were confiscated; the IS demanded taxes from the traders. Children became fanatical. In February 2015, IS began to fortify the city in order to fend off a possible recapture.

On March 24, 2016, the Iraqi army began its advance towards Mosul. The government troops were supported by allied paramilitary volunteer units and by Kurdish Peshmerga associations. In addition, the US-led international anti-IS coalition carried out air strikes against IS positions and facilities in and around Mosul. According to the army, some villages in the east of the city could be recaptured right at the beginning of the offensive. As a result of the fighting, thousands of civilians fled from the contested areas to the neighboring Autonomous Region of Kurdistan . After fierce fighting, the small town of Qayyarah on the Tigris was captured on August 24, 2016 . With its air force base, it was intended to serve as a base for the major attack on Mosul. At the end of August, the restoration of the airport, which had been largely destroyed by IS, began, the storage of supplies and the deployment of troops for the planned attack. During this time, IS was also preparing to defend Mosul. While the IS fighters carried out counter-attacks south of Qayyarah, they dug a wide trench around Mosul itself, which they filled with oil. This should be set on fire so that the heavy smoke would make air attacks by the coalition more difficult. In addition, the city was provided with booby traps and tunnel systems.

Before the IS-occupied city was retaken by coalition troops in October 2016, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan demanded that only Sunni Arabs, Turkmens and Sunni Kurds should live in Mosul in future . During the deployment of the Iraqi units, fierce disputes were waged over which units should take part in the attack on the urban area of ​​Mosul. The use of Shiite militias al-Hashd asch-Sha'bī (trained by Iran) was rejected by Sunni spokesmen. Crimes against the civilian population were feared, such as those documented by Amnesty International for the Battle of Fallujah in June 2016. On the other hand, the Iraqi central government rejected excessive participation by the Kurdish Peshmerga. The factual annexation of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk to the Kurdish Autonomous Region already led to strong resentments between the governments in Baghdad and Erbil. The central government therefore feared an extension of Kurdish control to Mosul. Turkey also had interests in Mosul, whose former governor Atheel al-Nujaifi had close ties to Ankara and went into exile there. President Erdogan therefore called for the participation of Turkish troops in the offensive and threatened to take unilateral steps in this direction. Turkey maintained a base in Baschiqa in northern Iraq and trained Sunni volunteers there. The Iraqi central government refused, however, and asked Turkey to vacate Iraqi territory. The Kurdish PKK also had associations in the immediate vicinity. Their intervention in the fighting was to be expected if the Turkish troops should also join the advance. Most recently, British and US associations were also in action to provide support. Their main task was to provide air support for the coalition forces.

On October 16, air forces dropped tens of thousands of leaflets over the city calling on the civilian population to cooperate with the military. Shortly afterwards, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the start of the major attack on television, in which Shiite militias also took part in addition to the military, police forces and Peshmerga. However, Kurds and Shiites should not invade the city itself. On July 9, 2017, the Iraqi Prime Minister announced the complete retaking of the city.


Of economic importance is Mosul mainly because of the rich oil fields in the area. There are oil refineries in the city itself . The city is traditionally known for textile and leather products, the fabric muslin takes its name from the city.

The city is the traffic junction of Northern Iraq (the Baghdad Railway runs via Mosul), but the unstable situation has reduced its economic importance considerably.


One of the cultural sites is the Mosul Museum , which keeps important works of art from the Assyrian period and from Hatra . A significant part of these was destroyed by IS terrorists in an iconoclast in February 2015 .

Near Mosul, on the opposite bank of the Tigris, are the ruins of the ancient Assyrian capital, Nineveh , discovered by the British Austen Henry Layard , after which the province was named.

IS terrorists brought some works of art - like the sculpture Das Grab Jonas - into the robbery-supported art trade in order to raise money for weapons and attacks.


The Prophet Georg Mosque and the Jonas Mosque , the alleged tomb of the Prophet Jonas, were located in Mosul . This mosque, which was renovated in the 1990s, and the Imam-Aun-bin-al-Hasan mosque were blown up by members of the Islamic State (IS) group on July 24, 2014, and the day after the sanctuary of Seth and the grave of Muslims Jews who were respected as a prophet destroyed Daniel . The secular, historical Pasch Tapia castle , which was considered a symbol of the city, was also destroyed.

40 kilometers north of Mosul is the Mosul dam on the Tigris , the largest dam in Iraq.


Mosul has had a continuous rail link in the direction of Turkey and Syria since the Baghdad Railway was completed in 1940. For decades, there was a direct train connection to Istanbul with the Taurus Express . It was discontinued in 1982, since then the train service to Syria and Turkey has been irregular depending on the political situation. In mid-February 2010, the Mosul- Gaziantep (Turkey) train connection via the Baghdad Railway was reopened. The 18-hour journey passed through Syria and took place once a week, but was discontinued a few months later. The city has its own airport .

Climate table

Mosul has a semi-arid climate with very hot dry summers and cool rainy winters. Almost three times as much rain falls here as in Baghdad and twice as much as in Basra . This makes the area suitable for growing wheat and barley.

Climate diagram
J F. M. A. M. J J A. S. O N D.
Temperature in ° Cprecipitation in mm
Average monthly temperatures and rainfall for Mosul
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. Temperature ( ° C ) 12.8 15.3 19.0 25.4 32.9 39.6 43.4 43.0 38.7 31.2 22.4 15.0 O 28.3
Min. Temperature (° C) 2.5 3.5 6.3 10.2 15.0 19.5 22.9 21.8 16.6 11.4 7.0 3.2 O 11.7
Precipitation ( mm ) 66 70 60 50 19th 0 0 0 0 7th 46 60 Σ 378
Hours of sunshine ( h / d ) 5.1 5.9 6.2 7.0 10.0 12.1 12.4 11.9 10.7 8.6 6.3 5.0 O 8.4
Humidity ( % ) 82 76 71 64 48 31 28 30th 37 49 67 79 O 55.1
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Town twinning

sons and daughters of the town

See also


  • JM Fiey: Mossoul chrétienne . Beyrouth 1959.
  • Gábor Ágoston; Bruce Masters: Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire . Facts on File, New York NY 2009, ISBN 978-0-8160-6259-1 , pp. 394 f.
  • Michael RT dumper; Bruce E. Stanley (Ed.): Cities of the Middle East and North Africa: a historical encyclopedia . ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara CA 2007, pp. 259-261
  • UN Habitat (2016): City Profil of Mosul, Iraq. Multi-sector assessment of a city under siege. October 2016

Web links

Commons : Mosul  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b World Gazetteer: Population figures of the city
  2. The Middle East before a "Kurdish Spring"? In: Federal Agency for Civic Education, accessed on October 17, 2016 .
  3. IS destroys culture and history: Christians no longer live in Mosul. In: n-tv news television, accessed October 17, 2016 .
  4. Iraq reports complete retaking of Mosul. Spiegel Online, July 9, 2017, accessed July 9, 2017 .
  7. أين تقع الموصل - موضوع . In: موضوع . ( [accessed October 21, 2016]).
  8. مدينة الموصل . ( [accessed October 21, 2016]).
  9. Iraq: Historic Syriac Catholic church in Mosul to be rebuilt. Abouna / Catholic News Agency , Feb. 19, 2020.
  10. Thousands of Christians are fleeing Mosul , article from July 19, 2014
  11. BBC News, Iraqi Christians flee after Isis issue Mosul ultimatum , July 18, 2014; last accessed on July 21, 2014
  13. Asa Lundgren: The Unwelcome Neighbor: Turkey's Kurdish policy (Culture and Society in Western and Central Asia) . IB Tauris, London 2007, ISBN 978-1-85043-682-9 , pp. 35 .
  14. ^ A compromise report by the Mosul Commission , In: Vossische Zeitung , June 28, 1925; Sunday edition; P. 2.
  15. North Edge, FS (1986). The League of Nations: Its Life and Times, 1920-1946. Holmes & Meier.
  19. The Kurds want to leave Baghdad on
  20. SPIEGEL ONLINE, Hamburg Germany: Logbook al-Qaida: The legend of the terror tomatoes. In: SPIEGEL ONLINE. Retrieved October 17, 2016 .
  21. compare Fall of Mosul in the English language Wikipedia
  22. Mosul: Jihadists control Iraq's second largest city . Spiegel Online , June 10, 2014.
  23. Joseph Croitoru: The cultural barbarism of Isis. Trail of devastation . In: NZZ , July 3, 2014.
  24. Mosul under the "Islamic State": City of Ghosts. In: Spiegel Online . Retrieved February 5, 2016 .
  25. Khales Joumah: Life in the "Islamic State": Children's songs about jihad . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . August 28, 2015, ISSN  0174-4909 ( [accessed October 17, 2016]).
  26. Iraq: IS is building defensive trenches around Mosul. In: Spiegel Online . Retrieved February 5, 2016 .
  27. Mosul: Iraqi army starts attack on IS metropolis. In: ZEIT ONLINE. March 24, 2016, accessed April 3, 2016 .
  28. Battle of Mosul: Thousands of Iraqis flee from offensive against IS militia. In: SPIEGEL ONLINE. March 27, 2016, accessed April 3, 2016 .
  29. ^ Qayyarah fully liberated from ISIS control
  30. Destruction of Qayyarah airbase by ISIS Could hinder Mosul surgery
  31. ISIS builds 'hell on earth' around itself in Mosul, US military says
  32. ^ Isis 'rigs Mosul with bombs' ahead of US-backed Iraqi offensive
  33. dpa / nzz: "Turkey and Iraq order ambassadors" NZZ of October 3, 2016
  34. ↑ Denounced human rights violations in Iraq
  35. All against the "Islamic State"
  36. Iraqi military announces offensive by leaflet
  37. IS rages in the Museum of Mosul (Syria and Iraq in February 2015). Archaeologik (March 1, 2015) with a compilation of media reports; War on the past? IS and the systematic destruction of archaeological sites. Archeology (March 9, 2015) with a classification in the destruction of archaeological sites by IS.
  38. ^ The plundered legacy , ARD documentation , October 20, 2014.
  39. Reporting in the Austrian daily newspaper DER STANDARD ( Memento from July 30, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  40. Martin Gehlen: Trail of Desolation . Die Zeit, July 27, 2014, accessed on December 16, 2014
  41. 18 saatte trenle Musul'a , article in Radikal of February 17, 2010