| MOSUL, Iraq, April 10
MOSUL, Iraq, April 10 Professors were among the
workers who turned up on Monday to clear away rubble and prepare
for a resumption of classes at the renowned University of Mosul,
wrecked by the militants of Islamic State.
The Sunni Islamists looted the university after seizing
Iraq's second largest city in 2014. They set faculties and a
treasured library on fire during days of fighting with
government forces who pushed them out of the campus in January.
The sprawling campus has been mostly deserted since then as
soldiers painstakingly removed booby traps planted by the group.
But on Monday professors, administrative staff and cleaners
joined hands to sweep away debris and assess the damage.
"We want to resume teaching soon. We want to do what is
possible after all this destruction and war," said Atta Allah
Fahad Mikhlef, a biology professor.
He was collecting glass flasks which had survived a fire set
by the militants in a laboratory, and loading them into boxes to
take to classrooms.
Officials have not given a date for the resumption of
studies and there is still no power. But the scene is one of the
signs of normality returning to eastern Mosul as displaced
people return home and shops reopen.
That contrasts with life in western Mosul, 700 metres from
the university on the other bank of the Tigris. Artillery fire
could be heard on Monday from the Old City, where Islamic State
fighters are still holed up.
"Laboratory equipment has been destroyed and will be
difficult to replace inside Iraq. Priceless books have been
destroyed," Mikhlef said. "But we have some materials left."
The militants set the ground floor of his faculty on fire.
In one room, they had poured tar over three chairs but appear to
have perhaps been in too much of a hurry to torch them before
Algebraic formulas written years ago, during one of the last
teaching sessions, remained on a white board.
Another room was full of biology books, still in their
plastic wrappers, which had luckily survived the destruction
despite containing such forbidden ideas as evolution.
With the library gone another professor, Abdelaziz Safhan,
had brought in a few books and materials downloaded from the
"If we get electricity we can resume work," he said,
standing in front of his empty old classroom. "The chemistry
ovens work fine."
In an administrative building, cleaners threw charred
furniture out of a first-floor window.
Some buildings remain off limits as the army has yet to
clear all booby traps. Others were destroyed in an air strike in
2016 against a suspected Islamic State chemical weapons
During the Islamic State occupation, Baghdad stopped money
transfers to Mosul to prevent the group from seizing the funds.
"The government seems to have forgotten us. We haven't been
paid for three years," Mikhlef said.
"But we want to work. The university is my home."
(Editing by Andrew Roche)