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

ISIS battles U.S.-backed troops to vicious standoff in Mosul

Charlie D'Agata reports for CBS:

We witnessed first-hand just how vicious a street battle the fight for western Mosul has become. Heavy gunfire and explosions rang out from every direction.

It was hard to know where to take cover. Iraqi soldiers dashed across the street, dodging fire from an ISIS sniper. A mortar exploded behind us.

This is what the fight to recapture the Old City of Iraq’s second-largest metropolis has become and, right now, it’s clear ISIS still has the upper hand. Iraqi forces’ armored vehicles can’t get through the labyrinth of alleyways and narrow side streets, so soldiers have to fight this battle on foot.

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Yazidis who suffered genocide are fleeing again, but this time not from the Islamic State

Loveday Morris writes for The Washington Post:

Relatives collapsed in grief as the coffin of an 18-year-old Yazidi fighter was carried to a small temple at the base of Mount Sinjar.

Salam Mukhaibir’s death this month, along with four other Yazidi fighters, marked the latest dark turn for an Iraqi minority sect that has suffered genocide at the hands of the Islamic State.

But the men were not killed fighting the militants. They died in clashes with Kurdish peshmerga forces when long-simmering rivalries erupted.

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As Iraqi forces fight to take Mosul, car bomb in Baghdad kills 23 people

Patrick Markey and John Davison write for Reuters:

Islamic State militants captured an Iraqi police colonel and eight other officers on Monday after they ran out of ammunition during a skirmish in the battle for western Mosul, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said.

The official, who declined to be identified, said the incident took place as government forces closed in on Islamic State fighters in the Old City and other districts, in an offensive intended to crush the hardline group in what was once the de facto capital of their self-proclaimed Islamic caliphate.

In the capital, Baghdad, a car bomb killed at least 23 people and wounded more than 45 in a mainly Shi'ite southern district, police and medical sources said.

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Will Iraq survive victory over ISIS in Mosul?

Peter Bergen writes for CNN:

In a tea room in Sulaimani's old bazaar that's dense with the smoke of scores of cigarettes, bunches of grizzled, middle-aged men -- some wearing traditional Kurdish baggy trousers, other wearing suits without ties -- are arguing furiously about the great question of the day:

What happens to Iraq after ISIS loses the key Iraqi city of Mosul?

For the moment, the Iraqi army, Kurdish peshmerga forces, Shia militias and Sunni tribal units are all united in fighting ISIS. But even in Sulaimani, an Iraqi-Kurdish city close to the border with Iran that is one of the most stable corners of a very unstable Middle East, there is considerable worry about what comes next. As a senior Iraqi government official put it to me: "This is the $64,000 question."

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Iraqi Leader: Trump To Accelerate Support

Vivian Salama and Robert Burns report for AP:

Emerging from his first meeting with President Donald Trump, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Monday he was assured the U.S. will accelerate its support for his country's struggle against the Islamic State group.

"I think they are prepared to do more" than the administration of President Barack Obama, he said. Obama was reluctant to commit large numbers of U.S. troops to combatting IS in Iraq, but his approach, which relied on training and supporting local forces, has succeeded in pushing the militants out of much of the territory they once held.

Speaking at a Washington think tank shortly after his White House visit, al-Abadi said he got the impression that the Trump administration will take a more aggressive approach, although he did not say what that might entail.

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Iraqis pouring out of Mosul find no place at crowded camps

John Davison and Patrick Markey write for Reuters:

Mohammed Ali and his family, carrying all their worldly possessions in a few bags, had been on the road for 18 hours since fleeing their home in an Islamic State-held area of Mosul.

They hoped to find shelter at a camp. So far, they have had no luck.

"We tried at Hammam al-Alil camp," about 35 km (22 miles) south of Mosul, the 50-year-old said, flanked by 20 relatives including sons and grand-nephews and nieces. "It was full."

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Abadi, Trump Set to Discuss Islamic State Battle

Voice of America reports:

U.S. President Donald Trump will host Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi for talks Monday that are likely to include the ongoing offensive to recapture the key northern city of Mosul from Islamic State militants.

Last month, the two leaders discussed the battle against Islamic State during a phone call, but on Monday they will have their first face-to-face meeting.

Before departing for Washington, Abadi said he wanted to talk with Trump about "how to complete the final stages to defeat ISIS and those who are helping them."

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Iraqi forces close on Mosul mosque as strike kills foreign militants

Patrick Markey and John Davison write for Reuters:

Iraqi army helicopters strafed and rocketed Islamic State positions inside Mosul's Old City on Sunday as ground troops fought fierce street battles to close in on the strategic prize of the al-Nuri Mosque.

An air strike by the U.S.-led coalition backing Iraq forces in their campaign to retake Mosul also killed six foreign militant commanders in the west, including a Russian who was a senior Islamic State leader, Iraq's defense ministry said.

Federal Police troops on Sunday advanced past the train station in western Mosul close to the mosque, where IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate in July 2014 after the hardline militants had seized swathes of Iraq and Syria.

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Death carts carry family ripped apart by Mosul campaign

Tony Gamal-Gabriel writes for AFP:

As a convoy of wooden carts descends a hill outside Iraq's war-torn second city of Mosul, a child's foot, greyed with dust, pokes out from under brightly coloured blankets.

Ziad Khalaf says an air strike earlier this week targeting Islamic State group fighters in west Mosul killed 21 members of his family.

"They were pulled from the rubble. Twenty-one bodies, women and children. Even a baby of just six months," he says.

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West Mosul battle looks to be deadliest yet for Iraqis

Susannah George and Malak Harb report for AP:

As Iraqi forces pushed into southwestern Mosul, four Islamic State fighters moved into Omar Khudair's home and took up positions on the roof.

The 17-year-old, his parents and siblings took cover in his aunt's house next door, and for the next half hour they huddled in a back room as the battle raged overhead. Then the airstrikes came, blowing up a cluster of houses, killing not only the fighters, but 18 members of Khudair's extended family. The teen was one of the few to survive, left covered in burns and shrapnel wounds.

The fight for the western half of Mosul could the deadliest yet for civilians. Iraqi forces have increasingly turned to airstrikes and artillery to clear heavily populated, dense urban terrain, and residents running out of food and supplies are fleeing their homes at higher rates than previously seen in the Mosul operation.

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