This is what ISIS’ longest-held Iraqi city looked like after years of occupation

Over the summer, ISIS lost control of the first city it seized during its 2014 rampage across the Middle East.

The occupation of Fallujah was the terrorist group’s first step toward establishing its self-declared “caliphate.” The Iraqi city reportedly held a special meaning for ISIS, making fighters reluctant to inflict the type of damage the group had done in other cities.

But while the level of destruction in Fallujah doesn’t match that of Ramadi, a city about 40 miles west of Fallujah that ISIS lost control of earlier this year, the city is still a shell of its former self.

The fighting between the jihadists and Iraqi security forces (backed by US airpower) left many buildings destroyed, and thousands of civilians fled during the onslaught.

Reuters has photos of what the city looks like now.


Some of the streets were in disarray.

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REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

Debris piled up.

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REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

Buildings were destroyed.

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REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

Some parts of the city looked abandoned.

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REUTERS/Ahmed Saad

This mosque was damaged.

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REUTERS/Ahmed Saad

Some walls were blown out.

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REUTERS/Ahmed Saad

But still, Iraqi Security Forces celebrated in the streets after ISIS was driven from the city.


Iraqi forces made their way through the city and observed what was left behind from ISIS’ brutal rule.

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REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

They found this weapons factory.

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REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

And a school filled with explosives.

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REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

The militants left behind rocket-propelled grenades on a desk underneath a “Dora the Explorer” illustration in this school.

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REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

Iraqi forces also found books belonging to the militants. ISIS has been known to create and publish propaganda books, including textbooks for children.

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REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

This room was used as a prison.

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REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

Prisoners were kept in these cages.

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REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

Iraqi-government-allied Shia fighters, who were supposed to stay out of the city center while the fight for Fallujah was ongoing, inspected abandoned sites.

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REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

The city’s liberators found signs left behind by ISIS, which the group used to intimidate the populace into obeying its strict laws.

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REUTERS/Ahmed Saad

Here, security forces posed for a photo in front of murals ISIS had painted with themes of violence.

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REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

The militants also built underground tunnels around Fallujah, as they have in other areas under ISIS control.

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Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters