In stunning documentary footage taken by a German filmmaker last week, an elite Kurdish special forces unit that calls itself “The ISIS Hunting Club” is seen taking the battle to ISIS outside of Mosul as a combined Kurdish and Iraqi force numbering about 100,000 presses closer and closer toward the northern Iraqi city that has been held by ISIS since June of 2014.
Watch the “Hunting Club” blow up one ISIS suicide truck bomb — known as a VBIED, that is, Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device — with an anti-tank missile in the video below, shot on October 20 by documentary filmmaker Günther Steinmeier.
Mosul is the most important city for ISIS in Iraq, with about 2 million residents at the time that the terrorist group captured it as party of a series of lightening sweeps across Iraq two summers ago. The Iraqi and Kurdish governments, in conjunction with a United States-led coalition, have been planning to attack and retake the city for months, finally launching the operation about two weeks ago.
But resistance from ISIS fighters, mainly in the form of suicide attacks, but also with other tactics — including burning oil and sulfur refineries, launching diversionary attacks elsewhere in Iraq and using civilians as human shields — have made what was expected to be a slow march into Mosul perhaps even more of a slog.
The Kurdish Counter Terrorism Group, or CTG, has served as the tip of the spear, however, launching direct attacks against ISIS and thwarting suicide attacks.
Steinmeyer, who posts excerpts from his ongoing documentary on his YouTube page, has been embedded with the CTG. He also posted a longer clip that includes the thwarted VBIED attack seen in the short video above on this page, as well as up-close footage of the CTG, of which the “ISIS Hunting Club” is one unit, in action on the approach to Mosul.
Finally, the filmmaker posted a 10-minute excerpt including interviews with CTG troops, showing the unyielding dedication of the elite Kurdish special forces. That excerpt can be viewed in the following video.
Earlier in the campaign to retake Mosul, Kurdish officials said that top ISIS leaders, including the group’s founder and top leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi were holed up in the city.
Indeed, it was from the Grand Mosque in Mosul in July of 2014 that al-Baghdadi made his one known public appearance, delivering a sermon in which he declared that ISIS had established an Islamic “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria, with himself as “caliph,” that is, a religious leader considered a successor to the Prophet Mohammad.
The Iraqi-Kurdish forces expect the most intense fighting of the campaign when they at last enter Mosul, amid reports Wednesday that ISIS in Syria is dispatching elite “suicide squads” to the Iraqi city to combat the troops.