Iraqi government forces have pushed Islamic State (Isis/Daesh) fighters out of east Mosul and are poised to attack the west. The jihadists destroyed or defaced anything they considered non-Islamic, and the battle to recapture the city caused further destruction in the metropolis that was once a trade hub and centre for higher learning. US-led airstrikes have demolished scores of buildings and left huge craters that destroyed roads.

The 265-room five-star Nineveh Oberoi Hotel, built in the 1980s, once catered to the powerful during Saddam Hussein's rule, including military officers, government officials and businessmen rewarded for their loyalty to his Baath Party.

When Isis seized the hotel in 2014, it replaced wealthy Iraqi patrons with another kind of elite – foreign fighters and suicide bombers seen as the group's most prized members. The Iraqi army has recaptured the ruined compound, which the jihadists had renamed Hotel Waritheen (Inheritors). The atrium of the pyramid-shaped hotel is filled with debris. Rooms are littered with bullet casings, food containers and cigarette butts. Pain killers and needles used by jihadist fighters before and after battle are scattered around.

Mosul Isis Nineveh Oberoi Hotel Inheritors
The atrium of the five-star Nineveh Oberoi Hotel in MosulAhmed Jadallah/Reuters
Mosul Isis Nineveh Oberoi Hotel Inheritors
An Iraqi soldier stands in a hotel room littered with bullet casingsAhmed Jadallah/Reuters
Mosul Isis Nineveh Oberoi Hotel Inheritors
An Iraqi soldier wears slippers of the five-star Nineveh Oberoi HotelAhmed Jadallah/Reuters
Mosul Isis Nineveh Oberoi Hotel Inheritors
Iraqi soldiers enter the health club, littered with used syringesAhmed Jadallah/Reuters
Mosul Isis Nineveh Oberoi Hotel Inheritors
A damaged bathtub in the five-star Nineveh Oberoi HotelAhmed Jadallah/Reuters
Mosul Isis Nineveh Oberoi Hotel Inheritors
21 January 2017: A member of the Iraqi forces looks out at the Tigris river as he stands guard inside a room in the Oberoi hotelAhmad al-Rubaye/AFP
Mosul Isis Nineveh Oberoi Hotel Inheritors
A view over the damaged swimming pool in the five-star Nineveh Oberoi Hotel next to the Tigris river in MosulAhmed Jadallah/Reuters
Mosul Isis Nineveh Oberoi Hotel Inheritors
An Isis banner reading 'Welcome to the State of Nineveh' is seen on the top of the Hotel Oberoi Nineveh in Mosul on 27 June 2014Reuters
Mosul Isis Nineveh Oberoi Hotel Inheritors
21 January 2017: Members of the Iraqi forces pose outside the Oberoi hotel in Mosul after government forces retook control of the area from Islamic State (Isis)Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP

Mosul University was once one of the finest education institutions in the Middle East. Isis sold the university's ancient manuscripts and imposed its own form of education, banning philosophy books. When the army arrived, the jihadists burned down many of its buildings, leaving piles of ashes. A few pages of scientific textbooks were scattered on floors cluttered with debris. Upstairs in the cafeteria were blackened tables and chairs, below huge holes from airstrikes.

Mosul after Isis
A heavily damaged building of the University of MosulAhmed Jadallah/Reuters
Mosul after Isis
Interior of the library of the University of MosulAhmed Jadallah/Reuters
Mosul after Isis
Burned scientific textbooks are seen in the University of Mosul libraryAhmed Jadallah/Reuters
Mosul after Isis
Burned books lie in the library of the University of MosulAhmed Jadallah/Reuters
Mosul map
A map of Mosul, showing the location of the Nineveh Oberoi Hotel and the universityGoogle

Islamic State imposed a radical version of Islam in Mosul after establishing the country's second biggest city as its de facto capital: banning cigarettes, televisions and radios, and forcing men to grow beards and women to cover from head to toe.

When Islamic State militants swept into Mosul in 2014, they declared the local billiards hall un-Islamic. One restaurant owner said he was dragged away to a Daesh jail and tortured for four months after militants accused him of stealing. "They ripped my toenails off with pliers," he told Reuters. The torturers may be gone, but there are new challenges. He and other restaurant owners have no portable water and scarce electricity, and hardly any customers.

Mosul after Isis
A billiards table covered in plastic dust sheets stands in a billiards hall that was closed by Islamic State militants, in the city of MosulAhmed Jadallah/Reuters
Mosul after Isis
A nursery, with the faces of children and animals painted over by Islamic State fighters, in Al-Zirai, a neighbourhood of eastern MosulMartyn Aim/AFP

750,000 people are still in the city's west, many of them residents of outlying villages that Isis fighters led on forced marches up the Tigris River valley as they lost ground there. Narrow, winding streets are also expected to pose a particular problem as Iraqi troops won't be able to largely fight from inside their vehicles like they did in the city's east.

After US-led coalition airstrikes partially destroyed all five bridges spanning the Tigris, the number of car bombs targeting the troops decreased and they became less sophisticated. Iraqi troops began seeing fewer of the heavily armoured car bombs that coalition officials likened to vehicles out of the Mad Max movie franchise. Isis fighters also began running out of supplies.