As a journalist I have been visiting and covering Mosul on and off for almost fifteen years. I first went there in April of 2003 when the regime of Saddam Hussein was toppled by American troops. Then I went back on many other occasions.
I saw the evolution of armed groups in Mosul and their grip on the city until it led to the rise of ISIS in the summer of 2014.
The war against ISIS was most brutal Mosul had ever seen. Thousands were killed and much of this ancient city destroyed for good.
Still though, many civilians and the government in Baghdad hope that life could come back to Mosul and that this will be their last war.