At a shooting gallery in the middle of an amusement park on the eastern side of the Tigris, Hussain Muthar didn’t miss his target once.
He hit more than 10 brightly colored balloons. Each time, a wry smile appeared on his face as he pulled the trigger, suggesting that he wasn’t surprised by his accuracy.
Last summer, he was an Iraqi Special Forces sniper in western Mosul, battling Islamic State fighters.
Today that district, where the bloodiest stage of the war played out, is still devastated, and hundreds of Iraqi special forces soldiers are in the city to help bolster local police forces.
“Now I am stationed in Mosul,” Mr. Muthar said. “During my leave I don’t even go home to Nasiriyah, but stay and enjoy myself here. I never would have done that before.”
Around him at the amusement park, families with children lined up for a few rides that were functioning, including a Ferris wheel and bumper cars.
“We often think about this, how everything has changed and now everything is as if nothing happened at all,” he said.