Mosul (Arabic: الموصل al-Mōṣul, local pronunciation: el-Mōṣul, Syriac: ܡܘܨܠ, translit. Māwṣil) is a city of normally about two and a half million people (2014 est.) in northern Iraq, occupied since 10 June 2014 by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). Located some 400 km (250 mi) north of Baghdad, the original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has grown to encompass substantial areas on both the "Left Coast" (east side) and the "Right Coast" (west side) as the two banks are described in the local language. At the start of the 21st century, Mosul and its surrounds had an ethnically and religiously diverse population; the majority of Mosul's population were Arabs, with Assyrians, Armenians, Turkmens, Kurds, Yazidis, Shabakis, Mandeans, Kawliya, Circassians and other ethnic minorities also extant. In religious terms, mainstream Sunni Islam was the largest religion, but with a significant number of followers of Shia Islam and Christianity (the latter followed by the Assyrians and Armenians), as well as Yezidism, Shabakism, Yarsan, Mandeanism and Sufism. The city's population grew rapidly around the turn of the millennium and by 2004 was estimated to be 1,846,500. An estimated half million people fled Mosul in the second half of 2014 when ISIS took over the city, and while some returned, more fled in 2015 as ISIS-perpetrated violence in the city worsened. Historically, important products of the area include Mosul marble and oil. The city of Mosul is home to the University of Mosul and its renowned Medical College, which together was one of the largest educational and research centres in Iraq and the Middle East. The University has since been closed but at the choice of the Islamic State's leadership in Mosul, the Medical College remains open (although barely functional). Until 2014 the city was a historic centre for the indigenous Assyrians and their churches; the Assyrian Church of the East, its offshoot, the Chaldean Catholic Church, and the Syriac orthodox church, containing the tombs of several Old Testament prophets such as Jonah which was destroyed by the Islamic State occupation army in July 2014. Wikipedia
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