It was barely more than a squiggle, but the mark of a single letter sprayed overnight on a wall in the heart of Daesh’s self-proclaimed caliphate was a daring act of dissent.

The next day, ultra-hardline Daesh fighters came and scrubbed out the “M” — the first letter of the word for “resistance” in Arabic — which appeared in an alley near the Grand Mosque in the Iraqi city of Mosul about three weeks ago.

A video of the single letter, scrawled about a meter long on the wall, was shared with Reuters by an activist from a group called “Resistance”, whose members risk certain execution to conduct small acts of defiance in areas under Daesh rule.

Nearly two years since Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi delivered a sermon from that same mosque summoning Muslims worldwide to the “caliphate”, it is fraying at the edges.

As an array of forces make inroads into their territory spanning Iraq and Syria, the jihadis are becoming even harsher to maintain control of a population that is increasingly hostile to them, according to Iraqi officials and people who managed to escape.

“They are harsh, but they are not strong,” said Major General Najm al-Jubbouri, who is in command of the operation to recapture Mosul and the surrounding areas. “Their hosts reject them.”

Know Your Enemy: Daesh, the Islamic State (Pt. 2)

Read Next: Know Your Enemy: Daesh, the Islamic State (Pt. 2)

Read More: Reuters

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