Iraq Oil Report's Daily Brief compiles the most important news and analysis about Iraq from around the web.

Iran set for gas exports to Iraq

Press TV reports:

Alireza Gharibi, the managing director of the Iranian Gas Engineering and Development Company, told reporters on Saturday that Iran will start exports of natural gas to its western neighbor as soon as pipeline tests finish.

“Iran will sit for talks with Iraq within the next few days over the gas export project,” Gharibi added.

He further emphasized that Iran has laid 100 kilometers of pipelines related for the project and that Iran will be soon ready to start exporting a daily of 5 million cubic meters (mcm) of natural gas to Iraq in the first stage. The two countries signed an agreement over the exports of natural gas from South Pars energy hub to Iraq back in 2013.

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ISIS took $1 billion in cash from banks when it seized Mosul, US official bares

Monica Cantilero writes for Christian Today:

The Islamic State raked as much as $1 billion in cash when it took control of Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, in 2014, a top Obama administration official disclosed.

The Islamic extremists took the amount when they seized the reserves of more than 90 banks in Mosul in northern Iraq, Daniel Glaser, the US Treasury's assistant secretary for terror financing, told the Aspen Security Forum last week, Fox News wrote. Mosul has been under ISIS control since June last year and is said to be the group's main stronghold in the Middle East.

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Source: ISIS beheads Imam and preacher of mosque west of Mosul

Abdelhak Mamoun reports for Iraq News:

According to a local source in Nineveh province, the ISIS militants beheaded the Imam and preacher of the Righteous Mosque west of the city of Mosul.

The source said in an interview for IraqiNews.com, ” On Thursday, ISIS beheaded al-Sheikh Mushir Naqshbandi, Imam and preacher of the Righteous Mosque in Ghazlani area west of Mosul,” noting that, “the operation carried out by an ISIS element specialized in beheadings.”

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Iraqi Christian militia draws foreign fighters

Adam Lucente writes for Al Monitor:

Dozens of foreigners have joined the People’s Protection Units since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war to fight against the Islamic State (IS). Since early 2015, the Iraq-based Christian military organization Dwekh Nawsha (Self-Sacrificers in Aramaic) has become an alternative destination for such fighters. Despite the enthusiasm surrounding their cause and heavy media attention, Dwekh Nawsha’s Western volunteers only recently began participating in combat roles in the battle against IS. This was the result of monthslong petitioning of the authorities in Iraqi Kurdistan.

 

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US bombing campaign helps Iraqi forces recapture key Ramadi area from Islamic State group

Jeff Stone writes for the International Business Times:

Iraqi government forces recaptured a key position outside the city of Ramadi in an essential development in the ongoing fight against the Islamic State group, officials said Sunday. The country’s Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) retook the Anbar University campus after the nation’s military lost most of it to the militant group this year.

Aka the Golden Brigade, the CTS raised the Iraqi flag above the university in Ramadi, a city in central Iraq about 68 miles west of Baghdad. Control of this key strategic point in the war-torn country has changed hands a number of times since U.S. troops entered the nation in 2003.

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Karbala authorities obsess about the terrorists next door

Abbas Sarhan writes for Niqash:

In mid-May the extremist group known as the Islamic State managed to take control of the city of Ramadi in Anbar, and in doing so gained control over much of the central Iraqi province. Since then authorities in neighbouring Karbala province have become obsessed with securing the borders between the two.

It is hardly surprising people in Karbala are worried about their new neighbours. Karbala is a relatively conservative, Shiite-Muslim-majority province and home to the city of Karbala, a major seat of Shia religious learning and one of Shiite Islams' holiest cities. The Islamic State, or IS group, which bases its ideology on an extreme form of Sunni Islam and which considers Shiites apostates, has continued to make threats against Karbala and its residents because of the province’s significance.

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Peshmerga Minister talks Mosul, morale and arming Kurds

Kurt Nagl and Arina Moradi report for Rudaw:

Rudaw English sat down with Mustafa Sayid Qadir, Kurdistan Region’s Minister of Peshmerga, for a discussion that ranged from plans to retake Mosul to morale of the Peshmerga in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS). Read the conversation below.

Q. How is the war with ISIS now compared to when it started?
A. The situation of the war is much better than before. The Peshmerga have recaptured most of the areas previously lost to ISIS. I can say that 90-95 percent of Kurdistan Region territory is now under the control of Peshmerga forces.

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Iraqi Kurdish leader urges peace in Turkey

Anadolu Agency reports:

Leader of the northern Iraqi Kurdish region, Masoud Barzani has called on both the Turkish government and the PKK terrorist group to return to the negotiating table to find a peaceful solution to long-standing conflict between them. In a written statement late Sunday that he described as his "personal thoughts", Barzani praised the Turkish government's efforts and criticized the PKK's policies, while also hailing Turkey's military involvement in fighting Daesh.

"The Turkish government has been involved in positive steps and gestures towards a peaceful solution. However, we have unfortunately observed that some have failed to take advantage of these opportunities and fallen prey to arrogance," Barzani said in his statement. "I have sent letters upon letters to the PKK calling on them to act long term, because peace is a long process, and success takes a long time.

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Iraqis weigh in on Iran nuclear deal

Mustafa Habib writes for Niqash:

Earlier this month news broke that a deal on Iran's nuclear programme had been reached, after months-long negotiations involving foreign ministers from seven countries – Iran, the US, the UK, Russia, China, France and Germany as well as the European Union's head of foreign policy. The deal would curb Iran's nuclear programme and prevent the country from developing nuclear weapons quickly. In return long-standing international sanctions against Iran would eventually be lifted.

Around the world, opinions were divided as to whether the agreement was a triumph of diplomacy that would help achieve peace in the Middle East or whether it was, as one conservative US senator put it, “a historic defeat for the United States”. Opinions were also divided in Iraq, which shares an almost 1,500 kilometre border and a chequered history of war, peace and political interference with Iran.

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Saving Christians in Iraq and Syria

BBC Newshour reports:

Lord Weidenfeld is a prominent British Jewish figure, now 95 years old, who is funding a project to rescue two thousand Christian families from the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq. The first phase of Operation Safe Havens, funded by Lord Weidenfeld, saw a hundred and fifty Syrian Christians airlifted this month from Syria to Poland. He told Newshour why he's doing it.

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