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. His rifle slips and he
fires off a shot inside the vehicle.
"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!"
Abu Radhwan then turns his attention to Abdullah
"Abu Abdullah, aim higher and be careful! Abu Abdullah you're going
to kill us!"
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
"Come on, hurry up brothers!" says another fighter, beckoning him
aboard. "There are (war) planes around, please."
All spoke in Arabic.
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
"I'VE BEEN WOUNDED!"
But Islamic state has fostered online images of a disciplined,
invincible force surging almost unchecked through enemy lines, video
often overlaid with heroic music. Two years ago the militants
appeared unstoppable as they seized large swathes of Iraq including
the major city of Mosul, but in recent months they have been pushed
back from some areas.
The footage taken last December showed in graphic detail one of the
setbacks "through the eyes", as it were, of the fighter Abu Radhwan
in the moments leading up to his own death.
"Get out, get out, but don't go too far!" shouts one of the fighters
as Radhwan and his fellow fighters abandon the armored car. Abu
Radhwan: "Where's my weapon?"
[to top of second column]
Clear of the armored car, an obvious target now for Kurdish fighters
seen by the United States as one of the strongest opponents of
Islamic Sate in both Iraq and Syria, Radhwan picks up a grenade
launcher and runs.
The camera swings around. He is turning back towards the vehicle as
a shot appears to strike home.
"I've been wounded!" he shouts.
The camera view reels as he rolls over and over, shots of a
cloudless blue sky alternating with desert dust. An explosion rings
out. Radhwan turns his head, and with it the camera, back towards
their armored car. The last, fixed, camera shot shows the burning
vehicle on the dusty plain, a plume of smoke rising into the sky.
Peshmerga Lieutenant-Colonel Yasir Abdulla told Reuters the battle
had begun in late afternoon last December and continued until the
early hours of the morning.
"When we finished (fighting) Daesh with the help (of) air strikes,
we went next day, checking the bodies.
"They have helmets on and they have video you know ... They want to
film it all over, to show it to their world."
(Reporting by Emily Wither; writing by Ralph Boulton; editing by
[© 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2016 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.