So-called Islamic State (IS) has gone on a propaganda offensive as its enemies close in on its Iraqi stronghold of Mosul.
The city holds symbolic weight for IS because it was here that the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, made his first – and only – appearance following its declaration of a “caliphate” in the summer of 2014.
Since Iraqi and Kurdish forces launched their operation to retake Mosul on 17 October, IS has portrayed itself as having slowed its enemies’ advances, inflicted heavy losses, and suffered few setbacks itself.
But there have been mixed messages. Some IS videos have shown people shopping calmly in Mosul’s street markets, while others have depicted the destruction of civilian infrastructure and militants vowing to fight to the death.