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Coordinates: 36°22′0″N, 43°07′0″E

الموصل Tigris River and bridge in Mosul
Mosul Coordinates: 36°02′N 43°07′E / 36.033, 43.117CountryIraqGovernorate NinawaDistrict Mosul Population  - Urban2,339,800 Time zoneGMT +4 (UTC)

Mosul (Arabic: الموصل‎, Al Mūṣul),(Kurdish: Mosul/Ninawa),(Turkish: Musul) is a city in northern Iraq and the capital of the Ninawa Governorate, some 396 km (250 miles) northwest of Baghdad. The original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has now grown to encompass substantial areas on both banks, with five bridges linking the two sides. Despite having a large Kurdish population it does not form part of the area controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government.

The fabric Muslin, long manufactured here, is named for this city. Another historically important product of the area is Mosul marble.

In 1987, the city's population was 664,221 people; the 2004 population estimate was 2,339,800, and by 2008, population was estimated to be 2,600,000.[1] It is Iraq's second largest city after Baghdad, and substantially larger than Basra, the third largest city of Iraq.

The city of Mosul is home to the University of Mosul, one of the largest educational and research centers in Iraq and the Middle East.[2]

The city is also a historic center for the Nestorian Christianity of the Assyrians, containing the tombs of several Old Testament prophets such as Jonah and Nahum.



The name of the city is an Arabic-language name with many meanings, one of which is "the linking point". Another Arabic name for the city is Um Al-Rabi'ain (The City of Two Springs), because autumn and spring are very much alike there. The Assyrians call the city by its ancient name, Nineveh.

It is also named Al-Faiha (The Paradise), Al-Khadhra (The Green), and Al-Hadba (The Humped), and sometimes described as "The Pearl of the North".[3]


A souk (traditional market) in Mosul city northern Iraq, 1932

This city is indicative of the mingling ethnic and religious cultures of Iraq, where people lived in harmony for centuries. There is a clear Arab majority in urban areas, such as downtown Mosul on the Tigris. Across the Tigris and further north in the suburban areas, thousands of Kurds, Assyrians and Turkomans make up the rest of Mosul's population.[4]

The population of Mosul has progressively become a mixture of Arabs, Kurds, Armenians, Assyrians, and Turkomans, since 1958 when Iraqi Prime minister Abd al-Karim Qasim encouraged Kurds and other minorities to resettle inside Mosul as part of a plan to integrate other ethnic groups into the major cosmopolitan areas of Iraq. These plans were counteracted in the 1980s by former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and his Baath party, which forced some of those minorities to move outside the city, back into Kurdish regions.

The city is close to the Kurdish regions of Iraq and is considered by some Kurdish officials to be traditionally Kurdish, and situated in what was historically the Kurdistan region. There have been some demands from Kurdish parties that Mosul should be included in the Kurdish regional government. Kurdish fighters have been moving into the city since the fall of the Ba'ath government, causing some tensions with the Sunni Arabs of the city. Clashes erupted in recent months, between Sunni Arabs in Mosul and Kurdish fighters entering the city from the Kurdish regional governorates.[5]

The majority of people in Mosul are Muslims, though Mosul does have the highest proportion of Christians of all Iraqi cities. Other religions, such as Yazidi, also call Mosul home.[6][7]

Long before the Muslim conquest of the 7th century, the old city Nineveh Christianized when the Assyrians converted to Christianity during the 1st and 2nd centuries.

Despite institutional ethnic persecution by various political powers, including the Ba'ath Party regime, Mosul has maintained a multi-cultural and multi-religious mosaic. The difficult history of Mosul, however, still contributes to tensions among its modern inhabitants.


The language of the Arab people in Mosul is a special dialect of Arabic, partially influenced by the Syrian dialect, due to the proximity of Mosul to Syria. This dialect is sometimes described as the feminine version of the Iraqi dialect (see Syrian Arabic). It puts more emphasis on "gh" (replacing "r"), and more emphasis is laid on the "qa" (replacing the "gh"). The Kurds of Mosul speak the Kurmanji dialect of Kurdish, known as Behdini in the region. There is a substantial Turkish-speaking Turkoman population. Other languages such as Armenian and Assyrian (Syriac) are also spoken among their communities.

Arabic is the primary language of communication, education, business and official work, known to the majority of the city's residents.


The term "Maslawi" may refer to a person who is from the city of Mosul. Maslawi does not indicate one's ethnicity or religion. Maslawi also refers to the particular dialect of Arabic spoken in the Mosul area.


Ancient and Ottoman Mosul

a coffee house in Mosul, 1914

The area around Mosul has been continuously inhabited for at least 8,000 years. Built on the site of an earlier Mitanni-Kurdish fortress, Mosul succeeded Nineveh which was founded by the Mitannis as an outpost or citadel located on the hill of Q'leat on the right bank of the Tigris, across from the ancient city of Nineveh (now the town of Ninewa) on the left bank.

In approximately 850 BC, King Ashurnasirpal II of Assyria chose the city of Nimrud to build his capital city where present day Mosul is located. In approximately 700 BC, King Sennacherib made Nineveh the new capital of Assyria. The mound of Kuyunjik in Mosul is the site of the palaces of King Sennacherib and his grandson Ashurbanipal, who established the Library of Ashurbanipal.

Mosul later succeeded Nineveh as the Tigris bridgehead of the road that linked Syria and Anatolia with Median Empire. In 612 BC, the Mede emperor Cyaxares, together with the alliance of Nabopolassar the Chaldean, conquered Nineveh.

Mosul became an important commercial center of the Median Empire and Persian Empire in the 6th century BC. It became part of the Seleucid Empire after Alexander's conquests in 332 BC before being re-taken by indegenous Iranians under the Parthian Empire in 224 BC. The Parthian capital of Ctesiphon was sacked and conquered by the Roman Empire under Emperor Trajan, but quickly reverted back to the Parthian Iranians.[8]

The city changed hands once again with the rise of Sassanid Persia in 225 AD before falling to Utba bin Farqad Al-Salami in 637 AD during the period of the Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab.

Mosul was promoted to the status of capital of Mesopotamia under the Umayyads in the 8th century, during which it reached a peak of prosperity. During the Abbassid era it was an important trading centre because of its strategic location, astride the trade routes to India, Persia and the Mediterranean.

In 1127 it became the centre of power of the Zengid dynasty. Saladin besieged the city unsuccessfully in 1182 but in the 13th century it was conquered and destroyed by the Mongols; although it was later rebuilt under the rule of the Ottoman Empire and remained important, it did not regain its earlier grandeur.

It remained under Ottoman control until 1918, with a brief break in 1623 when Persia seized the city for a short time, and was the capital of Mosul Vilayet one of the three vilayets (provinces) of Ottoman Iraq.

Mosul in the 20th century

This article does not citeany references or sources. (September 2006)
Please help improve this articleby adding citations to reliable sources. Unverifiablematerial may be challenged and removed. The biggest Mosque in Mosul now under construction originally planned and founded by Saddam Hussein

Mosul's importance as a strategic trading centre declined after the opening of the Suez Canal, which enabled goods to travel to and from India by sea rather than by land across Iraq and through Mosul. However, the city's fortunes revived greatly with the discovery of oil in the area, from the late 1920s onwards. It became a nexus for the movement of oil via truck and pipeline to both Turkey and Syria. Qyuarrah Refinery was built within about an hour's drive from the city and was used to process oil for road-building projects. It was damaged but not destroyed during the Iran-Iraq War. Mosul provides a key portion of the country's electrical needs via Mosul Dam and several neighbouring thermal turbine facilities.

The construction of University of Mosul in 1967 enabled the education of many in the city and surrounding areas, and it features excellent engineering and linguistics departments among its many other academic offerings.

The region had been part of the Ottoman Empire from 1534 until the end of World War I in 1918.[9] The possibility of dissolving this Empire became real with the Great War, since Germany was the ally of the Ottoman Empire. Secret agreements between the French and the British government (known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement) decided in 1916 to draw a straight line from the Jordan heights to Iran: where the northern zone (Syria, and later the upcoming Lebanon) would be under French influence, and the southern zone (Jordan, Iraq, and later, after renegotiations in 1917, Palestine) would be under British influence. Mosul was in the northern zone, and would have become a Syrian city; but early discoveries of oil in the region just before the end of the war (1918), pushed the British government to yet another negotiation with the French; to include the region of Mosul into the southern zone (or the British zone). The border line that divides the two sides has not changed since 1918, but it has set the fate of the modern Middle East for the coming century with the raising of different countries from the Ottoman Empire.

At the end of World War I in October 1918, British forces occupied Mosul. After the war, the city and the surrounding area became part of the British mandate of Iraq. However, this mandate was contested by Turkey which continued to claim the area. Iraq's possession of Mosul was confirmed by the League of Nations in 1926 and the Treaty of Lausanne between Great Britain, Iraq and Turkey.

Some of the villages and towns around Mosul with its large Kurdish population were significantly affected by the 1991 rebellion suppression by the deposed former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, during the 1991 Kurdish-mounted, unsuccessful revolt against the regime. In the wake of the revolt's failure, a swathe of Kurdish-populated territory in the north and northeast of Iraq fell under the control of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and Kurdistan Democratic Party, which established autonomous (and de facto independent) rule in the region. Mosul did not fall within the Kurdish-ruled area, but it was included in the no-fly zones imposed and patrolled by the United States and Britain between 1991 and 2003.

Although this prevented Saddam's forces from mounting large-scale military operations again in the region, it did not stop the regime from implementing a steady policy of "Arabisation" by which the demography of some areas of Ninawa Governorate were gradually changed. Despite the program Mosul and its surrounding villages remained home to a mixture of Arabs, Kurds, Syriacs, Turkomans, a few Jews, and isolated populations of Yazidis. Saddam was however able to garrison portions of the 5th Army within the Mosul city, had the international flight capable airport under military control, and recruited heavily from the city for his military's officer corps; this may be due to the fact that most of the officers and generals of the Iraqi Army were from Mosul long before the Saddam regime era.

Mosul after Saddam

When the 2003 invasion of Iraq was being planned, the United States had originally intended to base troops in Turkey and mount a thrust into northern Iraq to capture Mosul and the strategically vital oilfields there. However, the Turkish parliament refused to grant permission for the operation. When the war did break out in March 2003, US military activity in the area was confined to strategic bombing with airdropped special forces operating in the vicinity. The city fell on April 11, 2003, when the Saddam-loyal Iraqi Army 5th Corps, abandoned it and eventually surrendered, two days after the fall of Baghdad. Kurdish fighters took civil control of the city, and started what eventually became a widespread looting by first breaking into the banks and government offices, especially looting government vehicles from garages at sites and breaking into employee's houses demanding the cars, which were taken to Kurdistan in large numbers. The US military did not intervene to stop the looting but denied the local police from continuing their job in these crucial days and told them to quit their positions. Kurdish forces made off with heavy machines and military weapons, much to the alarm of Turkey (which feared a Kurdish bid for independence, as well as a sympathetic response from the large Kurdish population in the south of Turkey and the east of Syria). The Kurdish forces had to promise the United States that they would leave town, and they were replaced by US forces. On April 15, 2003, US troops fired on a mob of anti-occupation protesters in Mosul after a confusing firefire that included US troops, Iraqi police and looters. At least three Iraqis were killed and many more were injured.[10]

On July 22, 2003, Saddam Hussein's sons, Uday Hussein and Qusay Hussein, were attacked and killed by Coalition forces in Mosul. The brothers were killed in a gunbattle that ensued after a failed attempt at their apprehension.[11] The city also served as the operational base for the US Army's 101st Airborne Division during the occupational phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During its tenure, the 101st Airborne Division was able to extensively survey the city and, advised by the 431st Civil Affairs Battalion, non governmental organizations, and the people of Mosul, began reconstruction work by employing the people of Mosul in the arenas of security, electricity, local governance, drinking water, wastewater, trash, roads, bridges, and environmental concerns[12]. Other U.S. Army units to have occupied the city have been the 172nd Stryker Brigade, 3rd Brigade-2nd Infantry Division, 1st Brigade-25th Infantry Division, and company-size units from Reserve components.

In November 2004, concurrently with the US and Iraqi attack on the city of Fallujah, the Battle of Mosul (2004) began. On the 10th, insurgents conducted coordinated attacks on the police stations. The policemen that weren't killed in the fighting fled the city, leaving Mosul without any civil police force for about a month. However, soon after the insurgents' campaign to overrun the city had begun, elements from the 25th Infantry Division and components from the Multinational force comprised mainly of Albanian forces, took the offensive and began to maneuver into the most dangerous parts of the city. Fighting continued well into the 11th with the insurgents on the defensive and U.S. forces scouring neighborhoods for any resistance.

The memorial that stands outside the entrance to the Dining Hall on FOB Marez where the December 21, 2004 suicide attack occurred.

On December 21, 2004, fourteen U.S. soldiers, four American employees of Halliburton, and four Iraqi soldiers were killed in a suicide attack on a dining hall at the Forward Operating Base Marez next to the main U.S. military airfield at Mosul. The Pentagon reported that 72 other personnel were injured in the attack carried out by a suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest and the uniform of the Iraqi security services. The Islamic terrorist group Army of Ansar al-Sunna (partly evolved from Ansar al-Islam) declared responsibility for the attack in an Internet statement.

In early 2005, the head of Mosul's anti-corruption unit Gen. Waleed Kashmoula was killed by a bomb which exploded outside his office. In October 2005, the Iraq Interior Department attempted to fire the police chief of Mosul. Mosul Sunni leaders saw it as a Kurdish grab for control over the police. In the end the police chief was replaced by a Sunni Arab, MG Wathiq Al Hamdani, who is a city resident.

In December 2007, Iraq reopened the airport in Mosul. An Iraqi Airways flight carried 152 Hajj pilgrims to Baghdad, the first commercial flight since US forces declared a no-fly zone in 1993.[13] But further commercial flights were prohibited, when a flight from Mosul airport were denied from landing in Baghdad airport by the american forces and was sent back to Mosul. On January 23, 2008, an explosion in an apartment building killed 36 people. People of zanjili neighbourhood where the explosion took place testified in court and to the media that the explosion took place after many hours of total blockade of their neighbourhood imposed by joint US and kurdish forces "2nd division" for several hours. the joint forces warned the inhabitants of a coming explosion but prohibited the people from leaving their houses to a safer place. People wittnessed militiary conveying barrels into the building and the explosion came afterwards. The following day, a suicide bomber dressed as a police officer assassinated the local police chief, Brig. Gen. Salah Mohammed al-Jubouri, the director of police for Ninevah province, as he toured the site of the blast.[14]

Since November 2004 and until now the city of Mosul suffered tremendously due to deteriorated security conditions (including military actions as well threats and killing of innocent civilians by Terrorists and criminals), unprecedented violence levels (especially on ethnic bases), continuous destruction of the main infrastructures of the city and neglect and mismanagement by the the occupation forces, Nineveh Governerate Council, multiple political parties as well as the central Iraqi Government in Baghdad.

All these factors depraved the city of its historical scientific and intellectual foundations in the last 4 years when a large number of scientists, professors, academics, doctors, health professionals, engineers, lawyers, journalists, religious clergy (both Muslims and Christians), historians, as well the professionals and artists in all walks of life, were either killed or forced to leave the city under the threat of guns, exactly as it happens else were in Iraq in the years following 2003.[15] [16] [17] [18]

In May 10, 2008 a military offensive launched by US-backed Iraqi Army Forces led by Maj. Gen. Riyadh Jalal Tawfiq, the commander of military operations in Mosul in the hope of bringing back stability and security to the city [1]. Even though the representatives of Mosul in the Iraqi Parliament as well as the intellectuals of the city and other concerned humanitarian groups agreed on the essential urge for a solution to the unbearable conditions of the city, yet they still believe that the solution is merely political and administrative, they are also questioning whether such a large scale military offensive will spare the lives of innocent lives.[19]

Despite all the odds, the citizens of Mosul are vowed to bring stability and prosperity to Mosul and to rebuild the city and regain its historical and cultural rules as one of the three major cities in Iraq and one of the first historic metropolitans of the World.

Historical places

Al-Hadba Minaret of the Umayyad Mosque in downtown Mosul

Mosul is rich in old historical places and ancient buildings: mosques, castles, churches, monasteries, schools, most of which abound in architectural features and decorative works of significance. The town center is dominated by a maze of streets and attractive 19th century houses. There are old houses here of beauty. The markets are particularly interesting not simply for themselves alone but for the mixture of types who jostle there: Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians & Turkmen.

The Mosul Museum contains many interesting finds from the ancient sites of the old Assyrian capital cities Nineveh and Nimrud. The Mosul house is a beautiful, old-style building, constructed around a central courtyard and with an impressive facade of Mosul marble. It contains displays of Mosul life depicted in tableau form.

The famous English writer, Agatha Christie, lived in Mosul whilst her second husband, an archaeologist, was involved in the excavation in Nimrod.

Mosques and shrines

Main article: Mosques and shrines of Mosul
  • Umayyad Mosque - The first ever in the city, built in 640 AD by Utba bin Farqad Al-Salami after he conquered Mosul in the reign of Caliph umar ibn Al-Khattab. The only part still extant is the remarkably elaborate brickwork 52 m high minaret that leans like the Tower of Pisa, called Al-Hadba (The Humped).
  • The Great (Nuriddin) Mosque - Built by Nuriddin Zanki in 1172 AD next door to the Umayyad Mosque. Ibn Battuta (the great Tunisian traveller) found a marble fountain there and a mihrab (the niche that indicates the direction of Mecca) with a Kufic inscription.
Nabi Yunus (Prophet Jonah) Mosque on Al-Tawba Mountain in Mosul City
  • Mosque of the Prophet Yunus or Younis (jonah) - On one of the two most prominent mounds of Nineveh ruins, rises the Mosque (an Nestorian-Assyrian Church before) of Prophet Younis "Biblical Jonah". Jonah the son of Amittai, from the 8th century BC, is believed to be buried here, and where King Esarhaddon had once built a palace. It is one of the most important mosques in Mosul and one of the few historic mosques that are found in the east side of the city.
  • Mujahidi Mosque - The mosque dates back to 12th century AD, and is distinguished for its beautiful dome and elaborately wrought (mihrab).
  • Mosque of the Prophet Jerjis (Georges) - The mosque is believed to be the burial place of Prophet Jerjis. Built of marble with beautiful reliefs and renovated last in 1393 AD. It was mentioned by the explorer Ibn Jubair in the 12th century AD, and is believed also to embrace the tomb of Al-Hur bin Yousif.
  • Mashad Yahya Abul Kassem - On the right bank of Tigris, known for its conical dome, decorative brick-work and calligraphy engraved in Mosul blue marble, 13th century.
  • Bash Tapia Castle - Part of Mosul's old walls which has disappeared, with the exception of these imposing ruins rising high over Tigris.
  • Qara Serai (The Black Palace) - The remnants of the 13th century palace of Sultan Badruddin Lu'lu'.

Churches and monasteries

Main article: Churches and monasteries of Mosul

Mosul has the highest proportion of Christians of all the Iraqi cities, and contains several interesting old churches, some of which originally date back to the early centuries of Christianity. Its ancient churches are often hidden and their entrances in thick walls are not easy to find. Some of them have suffered from overmuch restoration.

  • Shamoun Al-Safa (St. Peter) - The oldest church in Mosul, it dates from the 13th century and named after Shamoun Al-Safa or St. Peter. Previously, it had the name of the two Apostles, Peter and Paul and had previously been inhabited by the nuns of the Sacred Hearts.
  • Church of St. Thomas - One of the oldest historical churches, named after St. Thomas the Apostle who preached the Gospel in the East, including India. The exact time of its foundation is unknown, but it can be assumed that it dates prior to 770 AD, since reference tell that Al-Mahdi, the Abbasid Caliph, listened to a grievance concerning this church on his trip to Mosul.
  • Mar Petion Church - Mar Petion who was educated by his cousin in monastery, was martyred in 446 AD. It is the first Chaldean Catholic church in Mosul, after the union of the Assyro-Nestorians with Rome. It dates back prior to the 10th century, and lies 3 m below street level. This church suffered destruction, and it has been reconstructed many times. A hall has been built on one of its three parts in 1942. As a result to that, most of artistic features have been confused.
  • Ancient Tahira Church (The Immaculate) - Near Bash Tapia, considered one of the most ancient churches in Mosul. No evidence helps to determine its exact area. It could be either the remnants of the church of the Upper Monastery or the ruined Mar Zena Church. Al-Tahira Church dates back to the 7th century, and it lies 3 m below street level. Reconstructed last in 1743.
  • Mar Hudeni Church - It was named after Mar Ahudemmeh (Hudeni) Maphrian of Tikrit who martyred in 575 AD. Mar Hudeni is an old church of the Tikritans in Mosul. It dates back to the 10th century, and lies 7 m below street level. First reconstructed in 1970. People can get mineral water from the well in its yard. The chain, fixed in the wall, is thought to cure epileptics.
  • St. George's Monastery (Mar Gurguis) - One of the oldest churches in Mosul, named after St. George, located to the north of Mosul. Most probably built late in the 17th century. Pilgrims from different parts of the North visit it annually in the spring, when many people also go out to its environs on holiday. It is about 6 m below street level. A modern church was built over the old one in 1931 abolished much of its archeological significance. The only monuments left are a marble door-frame decorated with carved Estrangelo (Syriac) inscription, and two niches, which date back to the 13th or 14th century.
  • Mar Matte - This famous monastery is situated about 20 km east of Mosul on the top of a high mountain (Mount Maqloub). It was built by Mar Matte; a monk who fled with several other monks 362 AD from the Monastery of Zuknin near the City of Amid (Diyar Bakir) in the southern part of Asia Minor (Turkey nowadays) and the north of Iraq during the reign of Emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363 AD). It has a precious library containing Syrianic scriptures.
  • Monastery of Mar Behnam - Also called Deir Al-Jubb (The Cistern Monastery), in the Nineveh Plain near Nimrud about 32 km southwest of Mosul, 12th or 13th century. The monastery is a great fort-like building rises next to the tomb of Mar Behnam a prince who was killed by the Sassanians, perhaps during the 4th century AD. A legend made him a son of an Assyrian king.
  • St. Elijah's Monastery (Dair Mar Elia) - The oldest Christian Monastery in Iraq, it dates from the 6th Century.[20]

Other Christian historical buildings:

  • The Roman Catholic Church (Built by the Dominican Fathers in Nineveh Street in 1893).
  • Mar Michael
  • Mar Elias
  • Mar Oraha
  • Rabban Hormizd -- The monastery of Notre-Dame des Semences

Famous births

See also: Maslawi

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Mosul


  1. ^[dead linkhistory]
  2. ^
  3. ^ Mosul, Iraq from
  4. ^ Mosul â€" FREE Mosul Information | Facts, Pictures, Information!
  5. ^ Seattle Times
  6. ^ ArabNet Mosul Entry ArabNet
  7. ^ 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica Originally appearing in Volume V18, Page 904
  8. ^ See Roman relations with the Parthians and Sassanians.
  9. ^ Mosul from
  10. ^ More die as troops open fire on Mosul crowd | World news | The Guardian
  11. ^ - Pentagon: Saddam's sons killed in raid - July 22, 2003
  12. ^ Mosul
  13. ^
  14. ^ Gamel, Kim: Provincial Police Chief Killed in Mosul, Associated Press, 25 January 2008.
  15. ^
  16. ^ Human Rights in Iraq
  17. ^ France 24 | Iraq's deadly brain drain | France 24
  18. ^ Losing Mosul? - TIME
  19. ^
  20. ^ NPR's Morning Edition, November 21, 2007

External links

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