MOSUL, Iraq (Kurdistan24) – Clearing Mosul of explosives and other booby traps planted by the Islamic State (IS) could take several more years according to US State Department officials.
Stanley Brown, the director of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, suggested Mosul was a unique case, and that the removal of munitions could "take up to a decade."
“When I look around the world, in some ways there’s nothing like Mosul that we’ve encountered,” he told The Washington Post.
“The level of contamination though is not one of those where we’re talking weeks and months, we’re talking years and maybe decades,” Brown added.
Since their 2014 emergence in northern Iraq, IS occupied Mosul and planted booby traps, mines, and other explosives across the city.
Despite Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Monday declaring victory in Mosul, IS’ threat and presence persist.
Unexploded ordnances such as artillery shells and hand grenades from ground combat also remain scattered across the city, especially in areas where clashes were fiercest.
According to Pehr Lodhammar, the senior program manager for the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in Iraq, the organization is “assessing explosive contamination levels in western Mosul.”
US and UN officials have noted IS’ experiment with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) “are some of the most complex de-miners have ever seen.”
The militants have been able to experiment with and manufacture basic explosives with parts undetectable to metal detectors, the officials noted.
“It sounds like a nightmare problem for bomb disposal technicians,” former Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal officer John Ismay said.
“The hazard won’t be gone until every last bit of rubble is cleared away,” he explained.
Authorities are currently focused on clearing areas with water treatment, power plants, and other infrastructure to facilitate the return of displaced people to their homes.
Editing by G.H. Renaud