Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Racial Justice | Tracking COVID-19 (coronavirus)

FRONTLINE: Mosul

Airs Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV

Fighter. Filmed across the entire nine-month campaign,

Credit: Courtesy of FRONTLINE

Above: Fighter. Filmed across the entire nine-month campaign, "Mosul" goes inside the brutal battle to defeat ISIS in Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, and features extraordinary combat footage of one Iraqi Special Forces unit that bore the brunt of the fighting.

The Harrowing, Vivid Story of Four Soldiers’ Fight Against ISIS

On Oct. 18, 2017, the PBS documentary series FRONTLINE will present the national broadcast premiere of “Mosul” – an extraordinary, inside look at the brutal battle to drive ISIS out of Iraq’s second largest city, which some military commanders have described as the deadliest urban combat since World War II.

The people of Mosul endured the repressive rule of ISIS for more than two years. This is the story of the men who fought back – and defeated the Islamic State in their heartland.

Filmed on the ground by director Olivier Sarbil over the course of the entire nine-month fight, “Mosul” is a stunning look at the high cost of the Iraqi Army’s victory over ISIS in the city — large parts of which have been destroyed, with hundreds of thousands of civilians still displaced.

S36 Ep1: "Mosul" — Trailer

Described by some military commanders as the deadliest urban combat since World War II, the battle to drive ISIS out of Mosul was brutal and grueling. FRONTLINE takes you inside the fight -- going on the ground with four young soldiers on a team of Iraqi Special Forces who helped lead the effort. "Mosul" premieres October 18 on PBS and online.

A qualifier for this year’s Documentary Short Subject Academy Awards following its theatrical release in Los Angeles this past summer, this vivid documentary follows the experiences of four young soldiers in a team of Iraqi Special Forces tasked with leading the fight to drive ISIS out of Mosul as the terror group held civilians captive there:

  • Anmar, a college graduate seeking revenge after his father was victim of a suicide attack. “As an officer, I am responsible for my soldiers,” he says. “Every soldier has a mother, a father, a wife, children. All these lives are my responsibility.”
  • Hussein, a deadly sniper and aspiring soccer player. “For the ISIS guys I kill, I feel very happy I killed them,” he says. “It’s fun. It’s not like a war, but a wedding party.”
  • Jamal, a wise-cracking sergeant who has closely bonded with his team. “We’ve been friends from the start,” he says. “In the battlefield, you're together all day, every day. We do everything together. We sleep, we eat together.”
  • Amjad, a young recruit whose wife is pregnant. “We will recapture Mosul and drive ISIS out of Iraq,” he says. “Peace and security will return to our beloved country.”

Visceral footage of the fighting is interwoven with intimate and searching interviews with the young soldiers.

Full of hope at the beginning of the campaign, the reality of fighting an elusive and vicious enemy in a city full of trapped civilians ultimately takes its toll: By the end of filming, one of the four soldiers is dead.

And for the surviving soldiers, haunted by what they have seen and done, the war goes on: “When everyone is sleeping and I'm awake, I break down and cry,” Jamal says. “People are like leaves on a tree. When they dry out, they fall to the ground. Everyone has their destiny. We all have our day.”

Before the Iraqi government declared that it had liberated the city in July of 2017, Mosul was an ISIS stronghold: the city from which its leader pronounced the establishment of the Islamic State, the city from which its commanders called for terrorist attacks on the United States, the city from which militants were sent to kill civilians in European cities.

The war against ISIS in Iraq is a war with international significance – and "Mosul" is an unprecedented and intimate portrait of the men fighting it.

WATCH ON YOUR SCHEDULE:

“Mosul” premieres Wednesday, October 18 at 10 p.m. on PBS stations nationwide and online at pbs.org/frontline.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION:

FRONTLINE is on Facebook, Instagram, tumblr, and you can follow @frontlinepbs on Twitter. #frontlinePBS

CREDITS:

A FRONTLINE Production with Mongoose Pictures in association with Channel 4. The producers are James Jones and Dan Edge. The writers are James Jones and Dan Edge. The director is Olivier Sarbil. The co-director is James Jones. The executive producer of FRONTLINE is Raney Aronson-Rath.

FEATURED PODCAST

San Diego News Matters podcast branding

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.