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

Iraqi forces battle toward heart of Mosul’s Old City

Sergei Karazy and Maher Chmaytelli write for Reuters:

Iraqi forces battled their way along two streets that meet in the heart of Mosul's Old City on Friday, and said they aimed to open routes for civilians to flee Islamic State's last stand there.

U.S.-trained urban warfare units are leading the fight in the maze of narrow alleyways of the Old City, the last district in the hands of the Sunni Islamist insurgents.

Iraqi authorities are hoping to declare victory in the northern Iraqi city in the Muslim Eid holiday, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, during the next few days.

Click here for the entire story

Is ISIS Conceding Defeat?

Robin Wright writes for The New Yorker:

Three years ago, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi chose the Great Mosque of al-Nuri, in Mosul, as the site to proclaim his new Islamic State. The mosque, known as al-Hadba, or the “hunchback,” for its leaning minaret, is a fabled landmark in the Middle East. It dates back to the twelfth century. The creation of a modern caliphate was symbolized when the black ISIS flag was hoisted atop the minaret, on July 4, 2014. It was Baghdadi’s first, and still only, public appearance.

“I do not promise you, as the kings and rulers promise their followers and congregations, luxury, security, and relaxation,” he said, from the mosque’s pulpit. “Instead, I promise you what Allah promised his faithful worshipers”—a jihad to consume all other territory and people in the world. “This is a duty on Muslims that has been lost for centuries.”

The Iraqi Army had set its sights on the al-Nuri Mosque as the ultimate prize in the campaign to oust ISIS from Mosul, which was launched eight months ago. Ferocious urban battles around the Old City have been fought within fifty yards of the mosque over the past few days. Iraqis hoped that their beloved mosque would be liberated by Eid al-Fitr, the joyful celebration that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Instead, on Wednesday night, ISIS preëmpted the Army by blowing up the Great Mosque. Ironically, it acted during the period of Ramadan known as Laylat al-Qadr, when Muslims believe that the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed.

Click here for the entire story

After Mosul: The Iraqi towns still under IS control

Mina Al-Lami writes for BBC News:

With Iraqi forces close to retaking full control of the city of Mosul, so-called Islamic State (IS) is about to lose its last - and largest - urban bastion in Iraq.

Elsewhere in Iraq, though, the jihadist group still controls a number of towns.

Click here for the entire story

Anger in Mosul as Islamic State destroys historic mosque

Kawa Omar and Ahmed Rasheed write for Reuters:

The leaning al-Hadba minaret that towered over Mosul for 850 years lay in ruins on Thursday, demolished by retreating Islamic State militants, but Iraq's prime minister said the act marked their final defeat in the city.

"In the early morning, I climbed up to the roof of my house and was stunned to see the Hadba minaret had gone," Nashwan, a day-laborer who lives near the mosque, said by phone. "I felt I had lost a son of mine."

His words echoed the shock and anger of many over the destruction of the Grand al-Nuri Mosque along with its famous minaret, known affectionately as "the hunchback" by Iraqis.

Click here for the entire story

Iran begins exporting gas to Iraq

AP reports:

Iranian media are saying the country has begun exporting gas to neighboring Iraq.

The Thursday report by the semi-official Fars news agency said the exports began late Wednesday through a pipeline straight to Baghdad. According to the report, the daily flow will start at around 7 billion cubic meters per day and eventually grow to 35 billion cubic meters per day.

The pipeline’s inauguration came a day after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited Iran.

Click here for the entire story

IS Destroys Iconic Al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul

AP reports:

The Islamic State group destroyed Mosul's al-Nuri mosque and its iconic leaning minaret known as al-Hadba when fighters detonated explosives inside the structures Wednesday night, Iraq's Ministry of Defense said.

The mosque — also known as Mosul's Great Mosque — is where IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a so-called Islamic caliphate in 2014 shortly after the city was overrun by the militants and was seen as a key symbolic prize in the fight for Iraq's second largest city. The minaret that leaned like Italy's Tower of Pisa stood for more than 840 years.

In a statement posted online after the Ministry of Defense statement, IS claimed an airstrike carried out by the United States destroyed the mosque and minaret.

Click here for the entire story

Iraqi forces advance on Mosul mosque where IS declared caliphate

Marius Bosch writes for Reuters:

U.S.-backed Iraqi forces on Wednesday began a push towards the mosque in Mosul where Islamic State declared a self-styled caliphate three years ago, military officials said.

The forces had encircled the jihadist group's stronghold in the Old City of Mosul, where the medieval Grand al-Nuri Mosque is located, on Tuesday, they said.

The Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) were 200-300 meters (yards) away from the mosque, an Iraqi military statement said, a view supported by a senior commander of the international coalition fighting Islamic State.

Click here for the entire story

Thousands Fleeing Kept Waiting Near Front Line

Human Rights Watch reports:

The Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Peshmerga forces are stopping thousands of civilians fleeing territory held by the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) for up to three months at checkpoints, including on the front lines, apparently based on general security concerns, and in many cases preventing their access to humanitarian assistance, Human Rights Watch said today. The KRG is obliged to facilitate rapid and unimpeded humanitarian assistance to all civilians in need and to allow those fleeing to reach safety.

The civilians, including entire families, have been fleeing Hawija, 60 kilometers south of Mosul, and Tal Afar, 55 kilometers west of Mosul, which have been under the control of ISIS since June 2014. There are still 80,000 civilians in Hawija and another 20,000 in Tal Afar, United Nations staff told Human Rights Watch.

“All armed forces in Iraq should be doing their utmost to help civilians reach safety, and to get food, water and medicine,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The situation will become even more urgent when anti-ISIS forces begin operations to retake Hawija and Tal Afar.”

Click here for the entire story

The quest for an independent Kurdistan enters a new phase

Ishaan Tharoor writes for The Washington Post:

For many Iraqi Kurds, the time has come. Earlier this month, Masoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq, said a nonbinding referendum on independence will be held Sept. 25. Officials say they want those living within the area administered by the KRG, people in long-disputed (and oil-rich) territories now occupied by Kurdish fighters, and even members of the far-flung Kurdish diaspora to all cast ballots on the question of whether there should be an independent Kurdistan.

For Barzani and his allies, it's the culmination of decades of both political struggle and accommodation. For the central government in Baghdad, it's an unwelcome move that could further undermine their already fragile state. And for Iraq's neighbors and the United States, it only adds to their geopolitical headaches in a part of the world brimming with messy conflicts.

Click here for the entire story

Path to safety from besieged Mosul leads through hole in wall

Erik De Castro writes for Reuters:

We arrived at the frontline with the 9th Iraqi army division and went up on a rooftop to take pictures of the Grand al-Nuri mosque and its landmark minaret, still in the hands of Islamic State in western Mosul.

That's when we spotted civilians fleeing the tightening noose around the Islamic State militants by scrambling through a hole in a wall of a school across the road.

The day was blazing hot, with temperatures reaching 40 Celsius and no breeze, and the people emerging from western Mosul into the relative safety of government-held territory were suffering from heat exhaustion.

Click here for the entire story

Page 2 of 59912345...102030...Last »