Islamic State may exult in online portrayals of jihadis sweeping victoriously across Iraqi battlefields, but a camera recovered from the helmet of a dead fighter offers a contrasting picture of chaos and panic in a battle with Kurdish peshmerga.
A fighter named Abu Hajer is shown in footage seized by Peshmerga firing from one of three Islamic State armored cars advancing across a barren plain towards a Kurdish position.
“Abu Hajer! Stop firing!” shouts Abu Radhwan, the camera in his helmet picking up anguished faces as it swings erratically from views of rifles and munitions on the floor of the armored car to the brown fields and blue sky ahead.
A second fighter, Abu Abdullah, shouts out above the sound of shooting: “Abu Hajer! I told you to aim higher! What’s wrong with you? You’re firing the bullet casings straight at us!”
Watch the footage below:
The hurried nature of the operation was clear from the start as Islamic State fighters in desert fatigues and helmets ushered a suicide bomber into one of the vehicles. “Do not be sad for me,” he says.
Chaos and disarray are no strangers to soldiers in the thick of conflict, though the discipline of established professional armies might restrict battlefield anger and recrimination. Many fighting for Islamic state are new recruits, some from Europe, with limited combat training.
But Islamic state has fostered online images of a disciplined, invincible force surging almost unchecked through enemy lines, video often overlaid with heroic music.