Abu Awad, a stalwart fighter for Islamic State, was unsettled. His battered men, sheltering in the rubble of bombed-out buildings, were running low on supplies and they were losing patience – and discipline.
“Abu Osama,” he said on a radio frequency that his pursuers were monitoring two streets away, from the other side of the frontline of the battle for Raqqa. “We don’t have water for ablutions, and we don’t have enough medicine to treat our injured.”
“Cleanse yourself with dirt and I will get some to you in the morning,” a man replied in a tired voice.