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

Islamic State says it is buying and selling Yazidi women, using them as concubines

Loveday Morris writes for the Washington Post:

The Islamic State extremist organization boasted Sunday that it had enslaved women from an Iraqi minority group in order to use them as concubines, as a rights organization detailed teenagers being bought and sold by fighters for as little as $1,000.

An English-language propaganda magazine for the Islamic State said that Yazidi women and children were considered spoils of war after they were captured as the militants seized their towns and villages. It was the first confirmation from the group of widespread allegations of detention and sexual abuse against Yazidi women.

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Militants take Iraq army camp as bombs hit Baghdad

AP reports:

Militants with the Islamic State group on Monday captured a military training camp in western Iraq, inching closer to full control of the restive Anbar province, as a spate of deadly bombings shook Baghdad, hitting mostly Shiite neighborhoods and leaving at least 30 dead.

The attacks, which came as Iraqi Shiites marked a major holiday for their sect with families crowding the streets in celebration, raised new concerns that the Sunni militant group is making gains despite U.S.-led coalition airstrikes. British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, on a visit to Iraq, warned that the airstrikes will not be enough to defeat the extremist group and stressed that the Iraqi security forces would have to do the "heavy work on the ground." But Iraqi troops, overstretched and overwhelmed by the Islamic State group's summer blitz that seized large swaths of territory in western and northern Iraq, continued to come under pressure Monday in the western Anbar province, where militants seized an Iraqi military training camp.

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Officer: Iraq military helicopter crashes, crew dead

AFP reports :

An Iraqi military helicopter crashed Wednesday near Baiji, around 200 kilometers (120 miles) north of Baghdad, killing the crew, a senior officer and residents said. An army colonel said the cause of the crash was not immediately clear but residents in Seiniye, where the helicopter went down, said it had been hit by jihadist fighters. “The helicopter was on its way back from Baiji. The entire crew was killed,” the officer said, without specifying how many died in the crash.

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White House grapples with limits of air campaign in Iraq and Syria

David S. Cloud writes for the Los Angeles Times:

As warplanes from the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates pounded Islamic State fighters near the Syrian city of Kobani for a third day, the U.S.-led military campaign began running up against the limits of what air power can accomplish.

"Airstrikes alone are not going to save the town of Kobani," Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters at the Pentagon on Wednesday, adding that the militants "are going to continue to grab ground, and there are going to continue to be villages, towns and cities that they take" in Iraq and Syria. Kirby's frank acknowledgment came after nine weeks of bombing by the U.S. and its allies, which has not stopped Islamic militants from claiming new territory in both Syria and Iraq, a setback that military officials blamed on the poor performance of Iraqi and Syrian forces battling them on the ground.

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Two months of U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, mapped

Dan Lamothe writes for the Washington Post:

As noted on Checkpoint earlier this morning, President Obama visits the Pentagon today, two months after the United States began launching airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq. Those strikes have since been expanded into Syria, where they have been carried out regularly since Sept. 23. The map above outlines where those airstrikes have occurred as of Tuesday night. For those following the conflict, the size and location of the red bubbles may not come as a surprise. But there are still certain details worth noting:

The bubble growing the most quickly is around Kobane, the border town in northern Syria near Turkey. Eighteen strikes had been disclosed there since late Tuesday, and U.S. Central Command announced six more overnight. That puts the number at 24. Kobane has been under siege by the Islamic State for months, with many civilians fleeing and others staying to fight alongside Kurdish forces.

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Tha challenge of urban warfare with ISIS

Michael Soussan writes for the Wall Street Journal:

The survival or breakdown of Islamic State, aka ISIS, hinges on the outcome of what promises to be a grueling battle for control of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. Since the city’s fall on June 10, reports of mass executions have been confirmed by fleeing refugees. The ISIS jihadis have committed a “staggering array” of human-rights abuses including ethnic cleansing, abductions, rape, and other physical and sexual violence against women and children, according to a United Nations report released Oct. 2.

To understand the challenge of retaking Mosul, a densely populated city with some 1.8 million residents, consider Israel’s experiences in Gaza this year and the U.S. experience in Fallujah in November 2004. Fallujah was the single most violent urban battle in the Iraq war. Ninety-five American soldiers were killed taking the city and 560 were wounded. The majority of the city’s 250,000 residents fled before the battle, but according to U.S. officials more than half of the city’s homes were damaged and about 10,000 destroyed.

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War on ISIS in Iraq, Syria has cost U.S. $1.1B since June: Pentagon

Avaneesh Pandey writes for International Business Times:

The United States has spent $1.1 billion on military operations against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria since mid-June, according to data released by the Pentagon on Monday, the Associated Press, or AP, reported. The cost of the operation in Iraq increased significantly in August when President Barack Obama authorized airstrikes in the region.

Of the $1.1 billion, more than $60 million have been spent on Navy munitions alone, which include 47 Tomahawk cruise missiles fired by American warships from the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. The bulk of these missiles targeted al Qaeda-linked Khorasan group near the Syrian city of Aleppo, AP reported. The figures released by the U.S. Central Command reportedly did not provide a cost estimate for ammunitions used by the Air Force, which is expected to be significantly higher.

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Erbil, Baghdad strengthen ties in face of Islamic State

Mustafa al-Kadhimi writes for Al Monitor:

It was never impossible to repair the long-strained relationship between the Baghdad and Erbil governments. Compromise had always been available to both parties. In light of the current threatening situation and the challenges facing Iraq, such solutions are finally helping to put relations between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Baghdad-based Iraqi central government back on track.

The Kurds have welcomed decisions by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to release money to pay the salaries of KRG employees, to de-escalate tensions with Erbil and to pledge to work on permanent solutions to crises. There have been significant differences between the two sides for a number of years, but these now appear to be dissipating as the forces of the Islamic State (IS) approach the outskirts of Baghdad and Erbil. This mutual threat has prompted the involved parties to re-evaluate their positions to ensure they can respond to this danger.

 

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Iraqi scholar burns his books to protest Yazidi ethnic cleansing

Ali Mamouri writes for Al Monitor:

On Sept. 18, Bir Khadr Suleiman, a famous Iraqi writer and researcher, burned all the books in his personal library to protest the extermination of Iraq’s minorities. In Dahuk in northern Iraq, Suleiman gathered his books, and, in the presence of a number of his supporters, burned them while weeping over his many years of work. Suleiman is one of Iraq's most famous researchers on the Yazidi minority, publishing nine books in English, Arabic and Kurdish over four decades. His work sought to present an authentic, more accurate image of the Yazidis and dispel prevalent stereotypes on the minority. His library contained valuable and rare texts on the Yazidis that he had accumulated over his long career, including his own works.

 

 

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Wary tribal alliances, born of necessity, offer hope in Iraq

Kirk Semple writes for the New York Times:

After enduring weeks of abuse by insurgents of the group called Islamic State, members of the Aza tribe struck a secret deal last month with local police and military officials: The authorities would supply weapons to two tribal regiments totaling about 1,150 fighters, and in return the tribe would help government security forces fight Islamic State. Several days later, the tribal regiments, in collaboration with Iraqi government troops and Shiite militia fighters, liberated 13 villages in Diyala Province from Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS, officials said. “ISIS has humiliated the top sheikhs of Diyala and has done horrible and unforgivable crimes against people here,” said Abu Othman al-Azawi, an Aza sheikh and a member of the provincial council. “They tried to vandalize the tribal system and break its ties.”

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