Today Vice News released a video taken from the helmet camera of an Islamic State fighter attempting to a attack a Peshmerga position with an armored truck. The assault reported took place 30 miles north of Mosul; ISIS’s de-facto capital in Iraq.
From the video it’s obvious that ISIS has fallen a long way since they charged into Iraq 20 months ago. The vehicle the fighters are riding on are simple modified trucks. Each vehicle has been covered in armor and repainted. As the video plays you can see the trucks being hit and destroyed one by one by Peshmerga rockets as they attempted to assault a hill.
The Jihadists used an assortment of looted and improvised weapons. In the camera man’s truck there are two machine guns. One is a German MG3 medium machine gun and the other appears to be a Russian RPK light machine gun.
Unlike the Peshmerga, Shia militias and Iraqi army there is no armored mounting platform for the machine guns. The fighters appear to be stabilizing the MG3 by hooking the bipod over back of the truck while the camera man fires over him. It almost appears like they are trying to use the trucks tailgate as a berm of some sort. The militants also had an RPG-7, but only had warheads for armor penetration, not anti-personnel use.
The rifle grenades they used were even more crude. They were so badly made that the first few didn’t even fit in the launcher, which was itself a simple steel tube wielded to the front of a Kalashnikov. Some discoloration and wielding marks were clearly visible in the video indicating it was made in a small workshop.
When they did get a grenade to fit, it turned out to be nothing more than a pipe bomb. The fuse was a wick that the fighters had to ignite with a lighter. After firing the grenade the fighters attempted to pull out a RPG-7, but the Peshmerga hit the vehicle with a rocket before the ISIS fighters could fire the weapon.
The rocket disabled the vehicle and killed the diver. The militants panicked and jumped out of the truck. After attempting to suppress the Peshmerga position the with a few shots from the RPK, the cameraman and the rest of the surviving militants fled.
It goes without saying that this is not how soldiers should assault a defended position. When western forces assault an enemy position they leave medium or heavy machine guns and light mortars behind in a rearward area provide supporting fire. The infantry advance in mutually supporting sections.
This video shows ISIS advanced over open ground, using slow moving, relatively lightly armored vehicles that were incapable of surviving the Peshmerga’s western supplied weapons. The vehicles had no support fire from the rear and relied on a militant with a machine gun instead. The result was predictable, the vehicle were blown up before they could reach their targets.
Not only does this video break ISIS’s image of being an invincible army, it shows just how amateurish and ill-equipped the group has become over the course of the war. This is not an organization capable of fighting back against any reasonably motivated force. Which is probably why they have lost so much territory over the past year.