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

ISIL jihadists open new front in Baghdad push

Ammar Karim reports for Agence France-Presse:

A powerful jihadist group inspired by Al-Qaeda has opened a new battlefront with Iraqi security forces that could see it try to push into Baghdad, officials and analysts warn.

The latest clashes, just weeks before parliamentary elections, raise key questions over the capacity of the army and police to repel militant attacks.

Anti-government fighters currently hold all of Fallujah, a town that is just a short drive from Baghdad, and other pockets of territory.

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U.S. cautions on “specific threat” against Baghdad airport

Isabel Coles reports for Reuters:

The U.S. Embassy in Iraq has cautioned its citizens against travelling via Baghdad airport through April 8 due to information regarding a "specific threat" to security, ahead of elections later this month.

The statement said embassy personnel were prohibited from using Baghdad International Airport "at this time" and urged American citizens all across Iraq to remain on alert.

No further details were given.

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A look at political advertising in Iraq

Matt Bradley and Ali A. Nabhan report for The Wall Street Journal :

Iraq’s parliamentary election campaign officially has just begun, but some ambitious candidates have been campaigning unofficially for weeks.

Here in the capital, as in the oil town of Basra to the south, parliamentary hopefuls and political parties plastered roadside billboards and buildings with posters that subtly support their races, before a ban on campaigning was lifted Tuesday. While Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission, which oversees the country’s vote, said it complained about some of the ads, there was little it could do to stop them, it said. By steering clear of direct references to the elections, they technically avoided running afoul of the rules.

They are now fixtures in the landscape here—among the many more overt ads that have sprung up since campaigning officially began Tuesday—each an oblique call for support at the April 30 polls.

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UN envoy warns of ‘divisive’ Iraq election campaign

Agence-France Presse reports:

Campaigning for Iraq's April 30 elections will be "highly divisive" as parties appeal to their sectarian bases at a time of worsening violence, the UN's envoy to Baghdad has warned.

Nickolay Mladenov also pushed for Iraqi leaders to urgently pass a much-delayed annual budget within two weeks, noting that further postponing the spending bill would badly impact on drawing much-needed business and investment to the country.

His remarks came as campaigning officially began on Tuesday for the parliamentary polls, Iraq's first since March 2010, with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki eyeing a third term with bloodshed at its highest level since the country emerged from a brutal sectarian war in 2008.

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Iraq electoral commission retracts resignation before vote

Raheem Salman reports for Reuters:

Members of Iraq's electoral commission retracted their resignations on Sunday, having threatened to quit en masse in protest against political interference just one month before a nationwide vote.

The entire board of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) tendered its resignation last week, further complicating the outlook for polls that have already been clouded by violence across the country.

In a statement following a visit by the United Nations' envoy to Iraq, IHEC said: "The decision has been taken to withdraw the resignations and resume our duties in full confidence".

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Attacks kill 16 people in Iraq

Sameer N. Yacoub reports for The Associated Press:

A series of attacks in Iraq, including a shooting at a security checkpoint and a suicide car bomb, killed 16 people and destroyed a bridge on Sunday, said officials.

Police officials said the deadliest attack took place when attackers sprayed with bullets a group of troops manning a checkpoint early Sunday, near the city of Mosul, 360 kilometers (225 miles) northwest of Baghdad. Police said seven soldiers were killed in the attack.

Hours later, a suicide bomber set off his explosive-laden car on the main al-Houz bridge near Ramadi city, killing five people and wounding seven. Police said parts of the bridge fell into the Euphrates river.

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Iraq parties jump the gun on election campaign

Salam Faraj reports for Agence France-Presse:

Despite the disarray caused by the sudden mass resignation of election chiefs ahead of next month's polls, candidates for seats in the Iraqi parliament are pressing ahead with unofficial campaigning.

Keeping the printing houses whirring, they have been putting up posters and distributing leaflets.

But wary of breaking the rules, their early propaganda only obliquely refers to the polls, scheduled for April 30, or skirts election regulations by praising the security forces alongside party insignia.

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Three killed in fierce clashes in Iraq’s Anbar

Agence-France Presse reports:

Ongoing clashes between anti-government fighters and soldiers near a militant-held city on Baghdad's doorstep have killed at least three people and wounded dozens more, officials said Friday.

The latest unrest erupted Thursday night in Anbar province, a mostly desert region in western Iraq along the Syrian border, where security forces have failed for months to evict insurgents from key territory.

Army forces began shelling the region of Zoba, which lies just south of Fallujah, local officials said, sparking clashes with militants.

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Iraq PM warns of poll delay after election chiefs quit

Ammar Karim reports for Agence France-Presse:

Iraq's premier warned Wednesday that April legislative polls may be delayed as he pushed for a controversial election law to be amended after electoral chiefs suddenly quit complaining of political interference.

The electoral officials are pressing for the same reform to the law ahead of the scheduled April 30 vote, amid doubts the polls can in any case be held countrywide as anti-government fighters still control a town on Baghdad's doorstep.

Much is at stake as Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki bids for a third term with his security credentials badly damaged by a surge in violence to levels not seen since 2008, and the country battles to rebuild its conflict-battered economy and boost oil production.

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Journalist killed by Kurdish officer at Baghdad checkpoint

Suadad al-Salhy reports for Reuters:

An Iraqi journalist was shot dead by a Kurdish officer at a checkpoint in Baghdad on Saturday as he went to work, provoking protests by other journalists and a promise by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to arrest the perpetrator.

Mohammed Badawi, the Baghdad bureau chief of Radio Free Iraq was on his way to the office near the Iraqi presidential compound in the centre of the capital when the killing took place.

"I was watching the cars passing through the checkpoint when a quarrel occurred between a driver and a soldier ... suddenly, two soldiers came and dragged the driver from his car and began to beat him," a man who identified himself as Riyadh and an eyewitness at the scene told Reuters.

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