This installment of Vice News puts viewers on the front lines of Mosul, where Kurdish soldiers known as Peshmerga are the only remaining ground forces fighting against the Islamic State (IS) in Northern Iraq. Reporter Aris Roussinos and his camera team join the Peshmergan soldiers in this frightening look inside an active war zone.
Based out of Sinjar, Iraq, the Peshmerga hold a 600-mile front line that almost completely surrounds Mosul. We learn the IS controls 77% of the Sinjar region, which caused the Peshmerga to move into the mountains where they have staked out the high ground. This standpoint has allowed them to both provide cover for their people and maintain a lookout for enemy fire, which is constant. Operating in ten-day shifts, the soldiers work night and day to stand their ground and maintain their positions in the hills. Sweeping panoramas allow the audience to see the region as a stationed soldier would. Small points of light sweep back-and-forth across the distant sky as the IS and Peshmerga exchange fire, and large truckloads of arms and supplies are seen travelling to and from IS outposts.
The news team captures chilling footage of Peshmerga forces under attack, causing the filmmakers to be evacuated when sniper fire becomes too intense. IS forces attempt to conquer the hilltop outposts 24 hours a day, making their most aggressive advances at night. But, as one soldier explains, morale is high amongst the Peshmerga, as the Kurds have essentially grown up in war and are eager to combat against terrorist forces. They express a desire to fight for any country in the war against terror, hoping they could in turn receive similar support in their battle against the Islamic State.
This look at the ongoing conflict in Iraq reveals the Peshmerga to be a calm and confident group in the face of constant battle. While at the time of filming the Peshmerga continued to maintain their stronghold in the region, it remains to be seen how the situation will resolve. A chilling and open-ended story, The Road to Mosul is an eye-opening report on the current climate of violence in the Middle East.