Helmet cam footage shows ISIS in battlefield chaos

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A day in the life of an Islamic State fighter

(Reuters) -- 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.

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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.

RELATED: See more from the video in the gallery below

5 PHOTOS
A day in the life of an ISIS fighter
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Helmet cam footage shows ISIS in battlefield chaos
An Islamic State fighter is seen carrying a rocket-propelled grenade launcher in Iraq, in this still image taken from an amateur video supplied by Kurdish Peshmerga and received by Reuters on April 29, 2016. Amateur video/via REUTERS TV ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Islamic State fighters are seen inside a vehicle in Iraq, in this still image taken from an amateur video supplied by Kurdish Peshmerga and received by Reuters on April 29, 2016. Amateur video/via REUTERS TV ?ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE.
An armoured Islamic State vehicle is hit in Iraq, in this still image taken from an amateur video supplied by Kurdish Peshmerga and received by Reuters on April 29, 2016. Amateur video/via REUTERS TV ?ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE.
A man in an armoured vehicle, said to be a suicide bomber about to go out on a mission, talks to other Islamic State fighters in Iraq, in this still image taken from an amateur video supplied by Kurdish Peshmerga and received by Reuters on April 29, 2016. Amateur video/via REUTERS TV ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE.
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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 says.

"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 combat training.

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26 PHOTOS
What life looks like under ISIS rule
See Gallery
Helmet cam footage shows ISIS in battlefield chaos
A civilian woman carries her child during a battle with Islamic State militants, east of Mosul, Iraq, January 10, 2017. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari
Civilians walk past Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF) during a battle with Islamic State militants, east of Mosul, Iraq, January 10, 2017. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari
A displaced man, who fled the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul, carries a woman in the Mithaq district of eastern Mosul, Iraq, January 3, 2017. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Smoke rises from clashes during a battle with Islamic State militants in the Mithaq district of eastern Mosul, Iraq, January 3, 2017. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
An Iraqi soldier is seen during a battle with Islamic State militants, north of Mosul, Iraq, December 30, 2016. REUTERS/Khalid al Mousily
Iraqi people flee the Islamic State stronghold in the town of Bartella, east of Mosul, December 28, 2016. REUTERS/Ammar Awad TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Iraqi people flee the Islamic State stronghold in the town of Bartella, east of Mosul, December 28, 2016. REUTERS/Ammar Awad
Iraqi rapid response forces cook food in their headquarters during the war against the Islamic state militants east of Mosul, Iraq, December 21, 2016. REUTERS/Khalid al Mousily
Mohammad Hassan, whose hand was chopped off by Islamic State militants, sits outside a house at Nimrud village, south of Mosul, Iraq, December 13, 2016. Picture taken December 13, 2016. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
Displaced Iraqi boys, who fled the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul, warm themselves by a fire in Khazer camp, Iraq,December 15, 2016.REUTERS/Ammar Awad
Displaced Iraqi woman, who fled the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul, bids her relatives farewell as she leave Khazer camp to go home, Iraq December 10, 2016.REUTERS/Ammar Awad
Iraqi Christians come to visit the heavily damaged Church of the Immaculate Conception after Iraqi forces recaptured it from Islamic State in Qaraqosh, near Mosul, Iraq, December 9, 2016. REUTERS/Ammar Awad
An Iraqi father (L) mourns the death of his son, who was killed during clashes in the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul, in al-Samah neighborhood, Iraq December 1, 2016. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
An Iraqi girl, who was wounded during clashes in the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul, lies on a bed at a field hospital in al-Samah neighborhood, Iraq December 1, 2016. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
Displaced people who fled the clashes transfer to camps during a battle with Islamic State militants in Mosul, Iraq, November 30, 2016 REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani
A member of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF) gestures in military vehicle during a battle with Islamic State militants in Mosul, Iraq, November 30, 2016 REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A man gestures as other men sit on the ground as an Iraqi Special forces intelligence team check their ID cards as they search for Islamic State fighters in Mosul, Iraq November 27, 2016. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
Two men hold hands as an Iraqi Special forces intelligence team searches for Islamic State fighters in Mosul, Iraq November 27, 2016. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
Oilfields burned by Islamic State fighters are seen in Qayyara, south of Mosul, Iraq November 23, 2016. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Boys stand in front of oilfields burned by Islamic State fighters in Qayyara, south of Mosul, Iraq November 23, 2016. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
Civilians flee fighting between Iraqi forces and Islamic State fighters in Mosul, Iraq, November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Smoke rises from clashes during a battle with Islamic State militants at the airport of Tal Afar west of Mosul, Iraq November 18, 2016. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
A member of Shi'ite fighters carries a weapon during a battle with Islamic State militants at the airport of Tal Afar west of Mosul, Iraq November 18, 2016. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
A displaced woman from the outskirts of Mosul covers herself in a blanket in the town of Bashiqa, after it was recaptured from the Islamic State, east of Mosul, Iraq, November 18, 2016. REUTERS/Khalid al Mousily
A girl attends classes after the city was recaptured from the Islamic State militants in Qayyara, Iraq, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Ari Jalal
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"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?"

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.

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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."

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