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

UK warplanes make first sorties over Iraq

Mark Tran writes for the Guardian :

RAF jets have made their first strike sortie against the Islamic State (Isis) terror group. As two Tornado jets took off from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, David Cameron said Britain was playing its part in an international coalition aimed at destroying the “appalling terrorist organisation”.

After the jets returned to base seven hours later, the MoD said their first combat mission had not struck any targets. Officials said the sorties had, however, gathered “invaluable intelligence” in the quest to degrade Isis’s infrastructure. “Although on this occasion no targets were identified as requiring immediate air attack by our aircraft, the intelligence gathered by the Tornados’ highly sophisticated surveillance equipment will be invaluable.”

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Fighting robs Iraqi farmers of harvest

Omar al-Jaffal writes for Al Monitor:

Approximately 60% of the residents of the Salahuddin province, 175 kilometers (109 miles) north of Baghdad, work in farming. Salahuddin was ranked the top producing province in agriculture in 2012, and earned about $400 million from agricultural products. However, the ongoing military operations in the province have cost the province its plans to cultivate 900,000 acres of wheat and barley this year.

Hamadi Jiyyad is one farmer who had hoped to see an agricultural boom in 2014 and prepared his land in the Tikrit district for wheat cultivation. However, the fighting near his fields forced him and his family to flee to Baghdad, and he postponed the winter planting until next year. After the Islamic State (IS) threatened to kill Jiyyad if he did not pay it a sum of money, he left and rented a house in Baghdad. He now sits in front of the TV screen following the news and hoping that the operations will expel IS from his province. Jiyyad told Al-Monitor, "The land was not affected, just the crops. I can farm the land in the future, but this year will be a big loss. I don't know if the state will compensate us or give us loans."


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ISIS oil funds don’t stretch as far as you may think

Robin Mills writes for the National :

As repeatedly happens in Middle East conflict, oil infrastructure was a military target last week. On Wednesday, UAE and Saudi warplanes supported US forces in destroying refineries in eastern Syria. This was not a rerun of Saddam Hussein’s scorched earth policy in Kuwait, but rather an attempt to cut off funds to ISIL.

The role of oil revenues for ISIL has come under intense scrutiny since its seizure of Mosul in June. Some estimates have suggested it earns US$2 million to $3m daily from oil sales, making it the world’s wealthiest terrorist group. But these figures are likely to have overestimated both volume and value of the oil, and the number has probably fallen significantly since then. Shortly after the fall of Mosul, ISIL held seven oilfields in northern Iraq and several small refineries, and was besieging Iraq’s largest refinery at Baiji.


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Interactive: Iraq’s exodus

Sofia Barbarani and Alia Chughtai write for Al Jazeera :

Iraqi civilians have been dragged into the country’s civil war as the Islamic State group (formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL) has taken over large swaths of land across central and northern Iraq, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes. The onslaught this year has displaced many of the country’s ethnic and religious minorities, who fear for their lives following the Islamic State (IS) group’s proclamation of a caliphate in the territory it controls in Iraq and Syria. The fast-moving crisis means that a safe place one day can become a target the next.

While media attention has focused on religious groups persecuted by IS because they do not adhere to the Sunni branch of Islam, hundreds of thousands of Sunni Muslims have also been displaced as a result of the violence. The Islamic State group’s takeover of Al Anbar governorate in January 2014 uprooted more than half a million Iraqis, mostly Sunni Arabs, from their homes.

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Iraq army woos deserters back to war on ISIS

Kirk Semple writes for the New York Times:

The Iraqi military command has launched a campaign to re-enlist soldiers and officers who abandoned their units, a crucial step in its effort to rebuild an army that has been routed in battle after battle by Islamic State jihadists. Even as the government has continued to equip volunteers, the de facto amnesty for deserters is an acknowledgment that the army desperately needs experienced soldiers — even ones who ran — for a force that is sustaining heavy losses despite the American-led airstrike campaign against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

Army officials at re-enlistment centers in Baghdad and in the northern Kurdistan region say they have seen some success in the effort. More than 6,000 soldiers and officers, including those who were sent home by their commanders as well as those who fled unilaterally, had registered at a military outpost here in Kurdistan, and more than 5,000 had signed up in Baghdad, officials said.

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British parliament approves airstrikes in Iraq against Islamic State

Nicholas Winning and Jenny Gross write for the Wall Street Journal:

British Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday secured parliamentary support for the U.K. to join U.S.-led airstrikes against the militant group Islamic State, the final political hurdle that needed to be cleared before launching military action.

In a special parliamentary session Friday, 524 lawmakers voted in favor of participating in airstrikes in Iraq against Islamic State, and 43 voted against. The key question that remains, however, is whether the U.K. will also expand the mission to Syria. Mr. Cameron has said he believes there are legal grounds to do so but said he limited Friday's discussion to Iraq because there wasn't sufficient support for military action in Syria as well. For many lawmakers, the situation in Syria appears less clear cut and there are concerns about the legal basis as intervention isn't at the request of the government—as they are in Iraq.

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France carries out fresh round of air strikes in Iraq

AFP reports :

France carried out a second round of air strikes in Iraq on Thursday, government spokesman Stephane Le Foll said, as part of a U.S.-led coalition helping the Iraqi army fight Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants, Agence France-Presse reported.

The announcement came as France mourned the beheading of hostage Herve Gourdel by Algerian jihadists linked to ISIS, and Le Foll said flags would be flown at half-mast across France for three days from Friday. Meanwhile, French Muslims were on Thursday called to rally against the “barbaric” beheading of Gourdel. Dalil Boubakeur, the president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) -- an official representative for the country’s estimated five million Muslims -- called for the gathering at the Paris Mosque on Friday afternoon.

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Women’s rights activist executed by ISIS in Iraq

Nick Cumming-Bruce writes for the New York Times:

An Iraqi lawyer known for her work promoting women’s rights has been killed by Islamic State fighters, the head of the United Nations human rights office said on Thursday, continuing a pattern of attacks on professional women. The lawyer, Sameera Salih Ali al-Nuaimy, was seized from her home by Islamic State fighters last week and tortured for several days before a masked firing squad executed her in public on Monday, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations human rights commissioner, said in a statement.

Ms. Nuaimy had posted comments on her Facebook page condemning the “barbaric” bombing and destroying of mosques and shrines in Mosul, a northern Iraqi city, by the Islamic State, the militant group also known as ISIS or ISIL. She was convicted of apostasy by a “so-called court,” Mr. Zeid said, adding that her family had been barred from giving her a funeral.

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U.S. turns up the heat on Turkey over Islamic State

Joe Parkinson and Jay Solomon write for the Wall Street Journal:

Turkey is showing signs of shifting to a more active role in the campaign against extremist group Islamic State as the government faces pressure from impatient U.S. and Arab officials. President Barack Obama called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from Air Force One on Thursday and the two leaders agreed to consult more closely on the Islamic State threat. Vice President Joe Biden met Mr. Erdogan in New York on Thursday.

Those contacts followed other meetings this week at the United Nations General Assembly where U.S. and Arab officials, concerned that Turkey is emerging as the weak link in the campaign, pressed it to formally join the coalition.

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Iraq’s Abadi warns of plot against west

Anne Gearan writes for the Washington Post:

Iraq has “credible” intelligence that Islamic State militants plan terrorist attacks on subway systems in the United States and France, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Thursday, but U.S. intelligence and other officials said they are not aware of any such plot. “Today, while I’m here, I’m receiving accurate reports from Baghdad that there was arrests of a few elements, and there are networks planning from inside Iraq to have attacks,” Abadi said. “They plan to have attacks in the metros of Paris and the U.S.”

Iraqi intelligence agencies informed Abadi on Thursday about what he described as an active plot by foreigners, including French and American citizens, who are fighting as part of the Islamic State group. Abadi made the remarks during an interview on the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly.

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