ITV News in Mosul: City now a place of the dead after double hell of IS occupation and liberation

In July last year, so-called Islamic State's militants were forced out of the Iraqi city of Mosul after a nine-month battle which left at least 10,000 people dead. Now, ITV News Correspondent Emma Murphy, News Editor Lutfi Abu Aun and Cameraman Dave Harman have travelled to the city to witness the devastation residents have been left to deal with.

For 22 years I’ve spent my working life seeking out the voices of those who can tell first-hand what happened in the places we report from. I expected the same in Western Mosul and wanted to hear from the people of the Old City - those who had lived under so-called Islamic State for nearly four years. What I didn’t know before I arrived was how difficult that would be.

It’s six months now since IS were eradicated here as a fighting force, but the double hell of occupation and liberation has rendered this city a place of the dead, not the living.

Finding someone to tell their story proved almost impossible. In our days filming we came across more bodies than we did people. All this time on, the dead remain in the broken shells of homes where they were either executed by IS or killed in airstrikes.

Their voices will never be heard now and it’s unlikely their names will be known either.

Who were the three women and a child still lying on the couch where they died? Was the man whose body lay close by the father of the children around him?

We will never know. They will be added to the growing list of the dead - at least 10,000 so far.

Quite what they endured in the battles for this city became clear on the banks of the Tigris. This was the final frontline, where for hundreds and hundreds of metres we picked our way through the bodies of IS fighters. Around them lay the trappings of their war - abandoned weapons, explosive vests, uniforms. It was a brutal, stinking place. We couldn’t count the dead here: there were just too many.

Emma Murphy during her latest reporting trip to Mosul. Credit: ITV News

On the other side of that river in Eastern Mosul, however, we did find people to give voice to the hell of the past four years.

Their stories were so desperate they are almost impossible to comprehend.

Stories like that of the mother, sitting with her three children, as she showed a photograph of her husband issued by IS. In it he is in an orange jumpsuit, trapped in a cage being lowered into water and drowned. The children barely flinched as she showed them.

  • This woman's husband was drowned in a cage by IS - just one of many harrowing stories from Mosul residents

Another mother told how she had tried to flee. When she was caught, she had to cradle her dying son as fighters laughed and branded him an infidel. Her young daughter, in red Micky Mouse glasses, stared ahead with her mind in a place where no child should go.

Alongside them was a lady with no legs - a mother of six. She was almost apologetic to tell her story, as if on Mosul’s scale of harm it barely registered.

In one small room we found the voices of the people of Mosul, but they were almost impossible to hear.

Mohammed Saad lost 11 members of his family.