The IS 'caliphate' centred on Mosul, had its own justice system served, efficiently, by its own police force.
Attacks on churches and targeted killings of Christians began as Iraq descended into sectarian violence after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
The events that followed the 2003 US invasion of Iraq started a cycle of violence against the country's minority Christian population. The pope's visit is meant to bring some 'healing and comfort.'
Despite the fact that the Islamic State is on the run, the terrorist group still manages to inspire, motivate and maintain the social identity and cohesion of its members. Here's how.
As Mosul rebuilds, its history is a reminder that people of many faiths lived in cooperation in the city. In the city was the Tomb of Prophet Jonah, venerated by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.
While Islamic State might be taking significant blows, including the recapture of the key Iraqi city, there is no reason to expect the violent and radical group will disappear.
South Africa's peaceful transition from apartheid to democracy holds crucial lessons for a post-Islamic State Iraq.
Iraqis are proud of the victory in Mosul, but worried about the huge tasks ahead.
The Great Mosque of Mosul - with its iconic leaning minaret - appeared on one of Iraq's banknotes. Its destruction by the Islamic State is an act of great symbolic importance.
The sustained assault on IS's two main strongholds could be followed by years of local and global insurgency.
There are many obstacles to successful prosecution, including obtaining evidence in a war zone and using foreign intelligence in court.
The tragedy of Mosul is that while Islamic State's territorial project in Iraq is coming to an end, it is creating new problems that exacerbate the country's existing challenges.
Islamic State will change tack after Mosul, but Iraq isn't ready for what comes next.
What was supposed to be a glorious triumph for Iraq has turned into an exhausting war of attrition.
Even when ISIS is defeated, unless different groups can repair their relationship, violent extremism will remain, and peace in Iraq will stay elusive.
A victory in its second-biggest city would be a spectacular turnaround, but the country still has years or even decades of rebuilding ahead of it.
Could the Iraqi army's banner offensive against IS tear it apart?
Mesopotamia is known as the 'Cradle of Civilization'. We must not let it continue to be a cradle for genocide and terrorism.
Initially heralded as the beginning of the end for IS, the effort to take back Iraq's second city is flailing.
The humanitarian crisis in the Middle East is getting worse by the day. A survey of aid workers provides a glimpse into life on the ground, and clues to why the humanitarian sector is ailing.