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

Empowered Shiite Militias Poised to Dominate Key Iraq Town

Brian Rohan writes for AP:

On the road to Tal Afar, an Iraqi city near Syria that's been key to sectarian catastrophes in both countries over the past decade, a mosaic of rag-tag troops advancing against Islamic State militants have one symbol in common.

The image of Imam Hussein, the revered Shiite figure emblematic of ancient suffering and oppression at the hands of Sunni Muslims, adorns flags and markings on a stream of armored vehicles headed to the front.

It's only a symbol, some say, which steels fighters and rallies the majority around a sense of identity in this fractured country. But to Iraqi minorities, especially those in Tal Afar, forces advancing under Shiite banner and fanfare have raised alarm.

Click here for the entire story

Beaten and bruised, detainee recounts Islamic State torture

John Davison writes for Reuters:

Abdel Razzaq Jalal paused, visibly traumatised, as he told how Islamic State militants tortured him in a Mosul prison to force him to say he was a spy. "I never confessed. I knew the punishment would be death," he said.

The ultra-hardline group arrested the 39-year-old in his village near Mosul in northern Iraq earlier this year, accusing him of spying for Kurdish forces.

After six nights and seven days of beatings, abuse and death threats, he says the militants let him go, after an Islamic State judge ruled there was not enough evidence to sentence him.

Click here for the entire story

U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and Syria acknowledges 54 civilians killed in airstrikes

Thomas Gibbons-Neff writes for The Washington Post:

The Pentagon on Thursday significantly raised its estimate for the number of civilians killed in U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, admitting there were an additional 54 deaths that occurred between March 31 and Oct. 22.

The announcement brings the total of U.S.-acknowledged civilian casualties to 173 since the coalition began strikes against the Islamic State in the region during the summer of 2014. The release of this latest report comes less than a month after the last one, suggesting that the U.S.-led campaign is responding to critics who say that its investigations into civilian casualties have taken too long. Col. John Dorrian, the spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, said that the plan is to now release the casualty reports monthly.

Click here for the entire story

Battle for Iraq’s Mosul could take months: ICRC

Stephanie Nebehay writes for Reuters:

The Iraqi government's assault to retake the city of Mosul could take months, prompting more and more civilians to try to flee to avoid being trapped between frontlines, a senior official of the International Committee of the Red Cross told Reuters.

A growing number of wounded, more than 100 on some days, are emerging from rural areas surrounding the city of one million that is held by Islamic State forces, said Dominik Stillhart, director of ICRC operations worldwide.

"What we see now on the ground is indeed that the fight in Mosul is not just going to stop anytime soon because the resistance is very strong," Stillhart, back from visiting Iraq, said in an interview on Thursday at ICRC headquarters in Geneva.

Click here for the entire story

Iraq’s Shi’ite militias could prove bigger test than Mosul

Stephen Kalin writes for Reuters:

In early June, two Iranian-backed Shi'ite militias under the nominal control of the Iraqi government stormed into an Iraqi military airbase north of Baghdad. Driving armoured vehicles and wielding rocket launchers, they took over a building on the base.

Baghdad is currently battling to prise hardline Sunni group Islamic State from the northern city of Mosul. In that struggle, government troops are fighting alongside the country's Shi'ite militias, as well as Kurdish and U.S. forces.

But the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi knows that even if it defeats Islamic State it needs to bring the Shi'ite militias under greater control. Iraqi and Western officials alike say episodes like the one in Balad raise serious questions about Abadi's ability to do that.

Click here for the entire story

Iraq’s Abadi Draws Political Strength From Mosul Campaign

Yaroslav Trofimov writes for The Wall Street Journal:

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi seemed on the ropes just a few months ago. Protesters stormed and sacked his office in Baghdad’s Green Zone amid talk of a revolution. Parliament fired his top ministers. It appeared only a matter of time before the British-educated engineer would be ousted too.

All this now seems a distant memory. Donning black military fatigues instead of his usual ill-fitting suits, Mr. Abadi has managed to harness the long-awaited campaign to free Mosul from Islamic State, reinventing himself as a victorious war leader.

Click here for the entire story

Sunni tribesmen battling Islamic State demand federalism in Iraq

Michael Georgy writes for Reuters:

As mortar bombs landed ever closer, Sunni tribal fighters preparing to attack Islamic State seemed more preoccupied by the failures of Iraq's political class than the militants trying to kill them.

The men - and one woman - from the Lions of the Tigris unit gathered on Wednesday in Shayyalah al-Imam, a village near Mosul, with some of their leaders expressing deep distrust of the politicians and saying Iraq's governance must change once Islamic State is defeated.

"Iraq needs serious reforms," said Sheikh Mohammed al-Jibouri, the top commander of the tribesmen. "Only serious reforms will lead to the unity of Iraq."

Click here for the entire story

Iraq’s special forces control 19 Mosul neighborhoods

Srdjan Nedeljkovic and Qassim Abdul-Zahra  report for  AP:

Iraqi special forces fighting Islamic State militants on the eastern side of Mosul have retaken 19 neighborhoods from the extremist group since the battle for the city began last month, a senior Iraqi commander said on Wednesday.

Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil of the special forces told The Associated Press his men were now about four kilometers (2.5 miles) from the Tigris river, which slices the city in half. He said the 19 neighborhoods constituted less than 30 percent of the part of the city east of the Tigris.

The government last month launched a massive campaign to retake Mosul from IS. The offensive was launched on multiple fronts, but most of the fighting has to date been concentrated in the city’s eastern sector, with Iraq’s special forces taking the lead.

Click here for the entire story

Kurdish traders gearing up to take over Mosul trade from Syrians

Ulf Laessing writes for Reuters:

Iraqi Kurdish food retailer Nuri Barzan was considering closing his warehouse because of the lack of business when the launch of a military campaign to oust Islamic State from their stronghold of Mosul eased his worries.

But with Iraqi forces having recaptured parts of Mosul since October, traders in Kurdish towns have been quick to start supplying shops that are opening again in retaken districts.

"Sales have gone up by 50 percent since the operation started as traders stock up for Mosul," Barzan said, sitting in his warehouse in Kalak, a town just east of Mosul.

Click here for the entire story

Another Mass Grave Dug by ISIS in Iraq, and a Ghastly Ritual Renewed

Tim Arango writes for The New York Times:

With every mile of territory the Iraqi security forces retake from the Islamic State, it seems another mass grave is uncovered. It has become nearly ritual, and despairingly regular.

The legacy of the mass grave in Iraq is long, stretching back further than the Islamic State to the times of Saddam Hussein’s industrial-scale killings. It is the horrible symbol of what has been for decades a gut-wrenching constant of Iraqi life: the disappearance of loved ones into the machinery of despotism.

For Iraqis, the Islamic State, for which the mass grave is as much a part of the group’s infrastructure as makeshift prisons and slaveholding houses, is just a new form of tyranny with direct links to Mr. Hussein’s regime. Many former Baathist officers from Mr. Hussein’s security forces populate the top ranks of the Islamic State, mimicking the former dictator’s tactics.

Click here for the entire story

Page 1 of 53912345...102030...Last »