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

Iraq PM Abadi says Iraqi forces have begun ‘moving’ in west Mosul – state TV

Reuters reports:

Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday that Iraqi forces had begun "moving" against Islamic State militants in western Mosul, an area the group still fully holds.

He did not give details of exactly what actions Iraqi forces were undertaking on the western side of the city. Abadi was giving a statement to reporters broadcast live on state TV.

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Iraq’s growing mental health problem

Annie Slemrod writes for IRIN:

Iraq already had shortages of psychiatrists and psychologists before the rise of so-called Islamic State. Now, as hundreds of thousands of civilians emerge from years of IS rule, the impact of those shortfalls is becoming painfully clear.

Many of those needing help are children, like Emir Ibrahim. The 14-year-old was lined up against a wall, gunshots scattered around his head. And this was just the beginning of his punishment.

The teenager, who had been accused of attempting to escape his northern hometown of Hawija, recalled what happened after he was brought before an IS judge. He “had a metal pole and started beating me with it... my back was covered in blood. Then, they put me in prison,” he said.

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The curse of oil in Iraqi Kurdistan

Erin Banco writes for PRI:

Commander Kamal Kirkuki swung open the large wooden doors to reveal a conference room. It was a war room, really. There was a long table and plush leather office chairs, maps with pins, a projector. A Chinese-made surveillance drone rested in the corner.

Kirkuki is a slender man, wearing traditional Kurdish clothing. He is unassuming in his mannerisms yet he holds one of the highest positions on this battlefield in northern Iraq. He is a top officer in the Kurdish military, known as the Peshmerga. The Peshmerga is an essential American ally in the ground war against ISIS.

His team is in charge of the city of Dibis and its surrounding villages. Dibis is just 80 miles southeast of Mosul. It is part of Kirkuk province and has been controlled by Kurdish forces since the Iraqi army’s northern divisions retreated in June 2014. This region is the epicenter of the war against the terrorist organization in part because it is the site of some of the largest reserves of oil in Iraqi Kurdistan. ISIS has used the oil it controls here to help finance its operations worldwide.

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Iraqi forces battle Islamic State near Tigris river in Mosul

Isabel Coles writes for Reuters:

Iraqi special forces battled Islamic State militants in districts near the Tigris river in Mosul on Monday as they sought to bring more of the east of the city back under government control.

The latest clashes occurred in the neighboring Shurta and Andalus districts. At least three Islamic State suicide car bombs targeted Iraqi forces in Andalus. There was no immediate word on any casualties. In an online post, Islamic State said it had carried out a "martyrdom operation" in the area.

Iraq's elite Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) said the militants, who seized Mosul in 2014 as they swept across much of northern Iraq, only to since lose much of that terrain to government counter-offensives, were fighting back hard.

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Iraq forces retake IS-bombed ‘Jonah’s tomb’ in Mosul

AFP reports:

Iraqi forces battling the Islamic State group in Mosul on Monday retook an area where the jihadists levelled one of the city's most well-known shrines in 2014, officials said.

"We retook control of Nabi Yunus area... raised the Iraqi flag above the tomb," Sabah al-Noman, spokesman for the Counter-Terrorism Service spearheading the Mosul offensive, told AFP.

He said two other neighbourhoods in eastern Mosul were also retaken from IS on Monday.

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Trapped by war, Mosul residents bury their dead wherever they can

Stephen Kalin writes for Reuters:

When four rockets crashed into his east Mosul home in November, Abu Abdel Malik's 60-year-old step-mother was killed instantly. But she wasn't properly buried for more than a month.

Fighting in Zuhur district and surrounding areas was too intense during that period to transport the body to the main cemetery in the suburb of Gogjali, just 5 km (3 miles) away.

So Abu Abdel Malik along with his father, brother, son and nephew dug a shallow hole under an orange tree in the garden just steps from where the family matriarch had died, and laid her there.

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ISIS Bombings Are Crimes Against Humanity

Human Rights Watch reports:

Recent car and suicide bombings claimed by the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) targeting crowded markets and hospitals in Baghdad amount to crimes against humanity, Human Rights Watch said today. The Iraqi authorities should improve its implementation of the law to compensate victims of “military mistakes and terrorist actions” as part of its efforts against ISIS.

“ISIS has routinely carried out devastating attacks that appear designed to inflict maximum death and suffering on ordinary Iraqis,” said Nadim Houry, director of the terrorism and counterterrorism program at Human Rights Watch. “The Iraqi and international strategy against ISIS should not ignore the victims of these and other unlawful attacks by all sides.”

Governments have the responsibility under international law to protect the lives of all those under their jurisdiction and to bring those who commit criminal offenses to justice. They should consider establishing mechanisms to address the needs of victims, including but not limited to reparations.

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In Iraq’s Mosul, university a casualty of anti-IS war

W.G. Dunlop writes for AFP:

Some buildings at the University of Mosul are charred by fires, others rigged with explosives, and bullets still periodically fly past a campus scarred by the battle for the city.

The sound of a jet, the whoosh of a descending missile and the explosion as it hits home mark an air strike nearby that sends a stream of black smoke rising toward the grey clouds blanketing the sky over Mosul.

The university -- like others located in or near cities that were seized by the Islamic State group in 2014 -- has become a casualty of the war to push the jihadists back.

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On Mosul frontlines, Islamic State’s local fighters direct the battle

Stephen Kalin writes for Reuters:

As Iraqi government forces advanced towards his eastern Mosul neighborhood in November, a group of Islamic State militants stormed Abu Rami's home, put a gun to his head and told him and his family to get out immediately.

Residents told Reuters during a visit to the Muharibeen district on Friday how the battle played out for them, describing scenes likely repeated in one form or another across the city.

Abu Rami, a 54-year-old former government employee, described a division of labor among Islamic State militants at the frontlines: a group that plants explosives, one that has snipers and another that serves as local guides.

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Iraqi Forces in IS Battle Raise Flag Over Mosul University

Susannah George and Khalid Mohammed write for AP:

Iraqi special forces raised the Iraqi flag above buildings within the Mosul University complex Friday as they battled Islamic State militants for control of the city, according to senior Iraqi officers and the U.S.-led coalition.

The troops entered the university grounds in the morning hours and by afternoon they had taken control of a neighborhood on the northeastern edge of the university compound and the technical institute within the campus, according to special forces Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil and Maj. Gen. Sami al-Aridi.

By evening, Iraqi forces had also taken control of the Nineveh governorate and council buildings, according to a statement from the U.S.-led coalition.

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