This documentary follows journalist Ben Anderson as he embeds with Iraqi fighters battling the Islamic State. He gains access to the three front lines in Iraq, where Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish forces are fighting for their lives. 
- Thirteen years later, Iraq has collapsed into warring states.
- A third of the country is controlled by ISIS,
- which has also taken huge amounts of territory in Syria.
Anderson visits Russian military forces in Syria and meets captured ISIS fighters in Kurdistan.
“Correspondent Ben Anderson goes on location to the unofficial borders separating the apocalyptic death cult’s caliphate and the surrounding civilian populations trying to flee or hold their ground. In each sectarian region, as well as on a Russian military base in Syria, he interviews Peshmerga fighting for a free Kurdistan, the abandoned remains of the Sons Of Iraq, Yazidi families, Shiite Iranian-backed militants, and captured ISIS jihadis,” outlines Dan Jakes in his A.V. Club review.
Jakes continues, “Anderson instead tries to establish the facts and point out the catch-22s in order to facilitate a debate. Vice prides itself in visceral storytelling, and in that, it greatly succeeds. In one Orwellian scene, a soldier in Anbar Province shows off the welded and jerry-rigged weapons he and his soldiers use, then traces their ownership back and forth between them, the U.S., and the old Iraqi Army. The episode is smart enough to counter seemingly obvious solutions with hindsight and perspective. Why not just arm more rebel groups? Because that’s part of the reason why the region is so flooded with advanced weapons to begin with.
“A conversation with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, in which “terrorist” is tossed around seemingly without any attempt to clarify Islamic State versus rebels fighting Bashar Al-Assad (not mentioned once until 40 minutes in), is especially head-scratching. Sure, an hour is a short amount of time to recap more than a decade’s worth of bad Middle Eastern policies, but PBS has successfully … found a way to do it without coming under gunfire.”