On Wednesday, the United States announced that it would send up to 450 additional troops to Iraq to train Iraqi fighters as they aim to retake the city of Ramadi from ISIS.
The timing was eerie. It was almost exactly a year ago that ISIS achieved its shocking takeover Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. And just two months ago, Iraqi fighters scored their biggest success yet in the fight to take it back, when they defeated ISIS in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown, which lies on the highway to Mosul. But as ISIS held on to that key city in Iraq’s north, it was also gaining territory in the west, and in mid-May the group swept in and took over Ramadi, the capital city of Iraq’s largest province.
The new deployment of U.S. troops is part of an anti-ISIS strategy that, to borrow Obama’s word, is not yet “complete.”
The picture of life in Mosul after a year of Islamic State rule is similarly uncertain. Accounts from the city give a (very) surprisingly textured portrait.
“Theft is punished by amputating a hand, adultery by men by throwing the offender from a high building, and adultery by women by stoning to death,” one resident told the BBC. “The punishments are carried out in public to intimidate people, who are often forced to watch.”