Daily Mail image of “ISIS forces” is actually Iraq national army

In early June 2014 a jihadist group known as the ‘Islamic State‘ (formerly known as ISIS) led a Sunni militant offensive in Iraq, putting the group in the headlines across the world. The offensive saw them capture several cities, primarily in the north and west of Iraq, and severely challenged the government’s ability to administer Iraq as a single entity.

Following these events the Daily Mail, on 25 June 2014, reported on a local militant group merger in the town of Albu Kamal. Depicting a series of images from the conflict, the article claimed that membership of the group could double as a result of the merger. True or False? looked at the photographs and it became clear that in one of the images featured, three men sitting in the back of a pickup truck were wearing army issue fatigues bearing Iraqi national flags. This appeared inconsistent with the beliefs of a group determined to establish a proto-caliphate spanning eastern Syria and western Iraq. The photograph carried the caption: “Masked: ISIS forces (pictured) seized Iraq’s main northern city Mosul on June 10…

We searched for the image URL using the ‘Google Search by Image‘  tool (screenshot below) to examine which other news agencies had published the image of the men in the back of the pickup truck.

Google reverse image search of Reuters photo

Google reverse image search with results

The image in fact originally appeared in a Reuters picture gallery showing Iraqi national forces mobilising around Mosul, and was described as: “Members of the Iraqi security forces take their positions during an intensive security deployment west of Baghdad, June 24, 2014.” True or False? contacted the Daily Mail to seek a correction and the image was later removed from the article.

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