'Mosul' movie finally brings Iraq's war on ISIS to the screen

Published date02 December 2020
Publication titleJerusalem Post, The: Web Edition Articles (Israel)
The film had captured the alleyways of the Old City of Mosul on the western bank of the Tigris River, sometimes called the "right side" because it is on your right-hand side when going downstream.

The scenes were so accurate that I wanted to compare them to something I had seen in late March 2017 when I was in the battle for Mosul with Iraq's Federal Police units. Sure enough, I found the burned cars and it looked almost identical to the scene in the film.

Mosul, on Netflix, was produced by Anthony and Joe Russo and directed by Matthew Michael Carnahan. It follows an Iraqi policeman who is suddenly press-ganged into an elite Nineveh SWAT unit that is fighting against ISIS in the city. The cop, named Kawa, is actually of Kurdish origin, according to the script, and he was played by Tunisian actor Adam Bessa.

According to the story, the SWAT team is led by a man called Maj. Jasem, a kind of rogue zealot leading them on an impossible mission and showing no mercy to the ISIS genocidal terrorists. Some have complained that the film gives too much credit to this unit, making Iranian-backed militias out to be less capable, and making the Iraqi Federal Police appear to have less of a role.

The fact is that the film, like any war film, can't tell the story of the whole war. Like Band of Brothers, it's a movie about a unit. Sangar Khaleel, a Kurdish fixer from Mosul, tweeted that he was a cultural adviser on the film and that it was based on a story in The New Yorker by Luke Mogelson from January 2017 about the "desperate battle" for the city.

"Many things are changed," from the real story, Khaleel wrote.

THE BATTLE for Mosul was fought in stages. I was there during the opening moves to take the city in October 2016. At that time, the Kurdish Peshmerga, perched on the hills overlooking the Nineveh plains, swept ISIS from a series of villages on the approaches to the city – while the Iraqi Army, consisting of armored and infantry units that the US-led coalition had helped train, equip and advise, moved into Bartella, Qaraqosh and other towns east of the city.

To break ISIS, which had some 5,000 fighters, Iraq arrayed tens of thousands of its own fighters from the army, the ISOF or counterterrorism service and the Federal Police. Shi'ite militias were sent west of the city to cut it off from Syria. Then the city, under siege, would be slowly digested, like Stalingrad during World War II.

I was there when the Iraqi 9th Armored Division and other units began the...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT