Bomb Technicians Are Struggling With Some Of The Most Complicated Triggers Ever Seen In War

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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U.S. officials say it may take more than a decade to clear Mosul of booby traps, now that the Islamic State has been largely pushed out of the city.

For U.S. officials, Mosul is perhaps the worst case of contamination ever seen in the modern era, as the city is littered with unexploded ordinances, ammunition, booby traps and general debris fields, The Washington Post reports.

“When I look around the world in some ways there’s nothing like Mosul that we’ve encountered,” Stanley Brown, the director of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, 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.”

“If you look at the fact that we’re still cleaning up unexploded ordnance in Southeast Asia and we’ve been there 20-plus years; in Afghanistan our program started in the 1988-1989 time frame and there’s still a lot of work to do,” Brown added. “We’re talking years, if not over a decade to get everything done.”

The United Nations Mine Action Service is still trying to assess the scope of explosives contamination in the city and finding the task tremendously challenging.

The Islamic State possesses some of the most complex improvised explosive devices. Some are outfitted with anti-tampering measures and other capabilities that allow the devices to evade metal detectors.

Moreover, the IEDs are not randomly placed, but hidden around key infrastructure points in such a way as to cause maximum damage when engineers begin rebuilding the city.

Officials noted that some ISIS booby traps have been discovered in vacuum cleaners, couches and ovens. These traps have caused significant casualties among Iraqi forces. Those remaining in the city will need specific training to clear the region.

Despite a declaration of victory in Mosul, which signifies the end of a nine-month campaign to retake the city, Iraqi forces are still searching for straggling ISIS fighters.

ISIS seized control of Mosul in the summer of 2014.

“Make no mistake; this victory alone does not eliminate ISIS and there is still a tough fight ahead. But the loss of one of its twin capitals and a jewel of their so-called caliphate is a decisive blow,” Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of Operation Inherent Resolve, said.

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