Mosul, in the Kurdistan Region, is the second largest city in Iraq. Made up of mostly Sunnis, its population has long distrusted Iraq’s primarily Shia government.
In 2014, Mosul was seized by the Islamic State, becoming the de-facto capital of the terror group.
Two years later, Sunnis, Shias and members of an international coalition fought together to recapture the city, in what is considered to be one of the largest military operations of the last 15 years.
French philosopher and media personality Bernard-Henri Lévy embedded with troops from all sides to witness the last days of the battle and show, up close, how Mosul fell.
Full video from this feature will be available 12/08/17 at 6pm EST.
The Battle for Mosul | Preview
THE BATTLE FOR MOSUL | PHOTOS:
In Qaraqosh, a cross is returned to a Cathedral’s dome, by a unit of Kurdish Muslims.
In Bartella, a Peshmerga general meets the international coalition’s U.S. advisors.
An Iraqi soldier awaits news of her injured comrade.
In a recently freed Bashiqa, a Yezidi, a Muslim and a Christian faith leader recite an impromptu prayer, as soldiers stand guard behind them.
In Fazliya, children show gratitude towards their town’s recent liberators.
A Peshmerga general hands over the operation to take Mosul, to his Iraqi counterpart.
A young girl at the entrance of Camp Khazar shares her hope for a future without the Islamic State.
Q&A with Director Bernard-Henri Levy
What attracted you to Mosul?
Nothing “attracted” me. But please remember that Mosul is the modern name for the Nineveh of the Bible. I wrote a lot about the story of Nineveh. I always considered Jonas, the prophet who goes to Nineveh, as my hero in the Bible. So, the temptation was great…
Why was it important to tell the story of Mosul?
I made a first film showing the war of the Kurds against ISIS. And I knew that this war would not be over before the fall of the capital of the Islamic State, which was Mosul. So, this was the idea. Go to the end of the process. See the final victory. And be there when ISIS is was really over.
What should we know about your filmmaking process?
We were a very small and mobile team. Only three technicians. My producer, François Margolin, who was always on the battlefield with me. Plus my two friends Gilles Hertzog and Aziz Othman. This idea of being very light was of course crucial. It was the best way to be embedded. The best way to go everywhere. The best way, too, to minimize the risk. This risk was not zero, of course, as I well saw in my previous movie when one of my cameramen, Ala Tayyeb, was heavily wounded. But, by this decision of being a very tiny team, I think it was much reduced.
Did you make any unexpected discoveries while shooting?
Yes. For example some very unpleasant things about the Iraqi Army. Not the Kurds, for course. The Iraqis. Just think, at the end of the film, of the scene showing a soldier with a swastika in the back of his jacket…
What do you hope your documentary will achieve?
To show how brave the Kurds are. And how unfair we have been to them. They paid such a high prize for resisting against ISIS. They deserve a reward. And this can only be the independence which has been their dream for a century.
THE MEANING OF MOSUL
Iraq’s campaign to liberate Mosul from the Islamic State and restore the Iraqi government’s authority required coordination with numerous armed groups with competing interests.
Read this interview with Zachary Laub, of the Council of Foreign Relations, on the Meaning of Mosul.
ASSIGNMENT ASIA: MOSUL AFTER ISIL
CGTN’s Tony Cheng went to the war-ravaged city, whose prospects for peace and stability remain uncertain, despite the defeat of the extremist group that had it under siege.