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

Mosul Civilians Sift Through Rubble as Coalition Takes Fiercely Held Neighborhoods

Heather Murdock writes for Voice of America:

“When we got out of the house, we ran. A sniper's bullet nearly hit my aunt’s foot,” says Nouradine, a former tile worker in a tiny grocery store in Mosul.

Iraqi forces and Islamic State militants had been fighting for a month in Nouradine's area, so when he saw his chance a few days ago, he ran.

The next day, the fighting finally stopped. Iraqi forces had secured it and several other fiercely contested neighborhoods in the past week, building momentum as the military fights toward its immediate goal of recapturing all of the city east of the Tigris River.

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Iraqi forces make rapid gains against Islamic State in Mosul

Isabel Coles and John Davison write for Reuters:

Iraqi special forces stormed a sprawling university complex in northeast Mosul on Friday and pushed Islamic State back in nearby areas to reach two more bridges across the Tigris River, the military said.

The militants were fighting back at Mosul University, which they seized when they took over the city in 2014. A Reuters reporter saw heavy clashes inside the campus.

Iraqi forces have now recaptured most districts in eastern Mosul, nearly three months into a U.S.-backed offensive, which accelerated at the turn of the year with new tactics and better coordination.

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In Iraq, thousands of terrorism’s victims go unnamed

Moni Basu writes for CNN:

It was a typical July night in Baghdad and even at midnight, the air radiated the day's heat. Some people in the upscale Karrada neighborhoood were sitting at outdoor cafes, watching a nail-biter finish to a Germany-Italy soccer match.

But all was shattered about 45 minutes after midnight when the sound of an explosion reverberated through the entire neighborhood.

Among all the terrorist attacks of 2016 worldwide, the Karrada bombing on July 3 stood as the year's deadliest.

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Life and business return to parts of Iraq’s Mosul

Guillaume Decamme writes for AFP:

Explosions can be heard a few blocks away but butcher Haj Fawzi is wielding his cleaver again as he greets customers at a reopened market in liberated east Mosul.

"Security has returned, the stalls on the market have re-opened and the clients are also here," he said, chopping up meat as cows' heads dangled from hooks behind him in the main market of Al-Zahraa neighbourhood.

"What we would still need is to be able to come and go freely to get our supplies," said Haj Ramzi, who runs another butcher's shop facing his brother's.

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In Mosul areas retaken from Islamic State, loss and fear linger

Stephen Kalin writes for Reuters:

Iraqi soldiers kicked in the gate of a home in eastern Mosul and emerged moments later with two young men whose hands they bound with plastic ties and dragged off toward black Humvees.

These types of episodes are playing out regularly in the increasing number of areas in eastern Mosul where Iraqi forces have pushed out Islamic State in a three-month, U.S.-backed offensive to retake the militants' largest urban stronghold.

For ordinary residents, a mix of emotions often accompanies the advance, which has picked up pace since the start of the year.

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In Disputed Iraqi Territory, Rebuilding A City Means Doing It Yourself

Jane Arraf reports for NPR:

For all of the terrible things that have happened to his city of Jalawla in northern Iraq, Yacub Youssef seems like a happy man.

Youssef is the sub-district director – essentially the mayor — of this small city just a few miles from Iran and about 90 miles north of Baghdad. ISIS occupied it in 2014, a few days after it took over Mosul. When the ISIS fighters were driven out two months later, Jalawla was left in ruins.

"I called Diyala [authorities] and they said, 'We can't help you.' The Kurdish Regional Government said they were going through difficult circumstances, so I had to search for another solution," Youssef says.

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Bombed Mosul bridge still lifeline for long-suffering civilians

Stephen Kalin writes for Reuters:

The rubble of a bridge blown up by Islamic State in Mosul to block advancing Iraqi forces has become a lifeline for civilians as more and more of the northern city breaks loose from the grip of the ultra-hardline militants.

Men and women, children and the elderly scramble down the banks of the Khosr River, a tributary of the Tigris some 30 meters wide and a meter deep which counter-terrorism forces crossed last week in a nighttime raid.

Those escaping east to Zuhur district drag suitcases along with strollers and wheelchairs. Those returning west to Muthanna carry sacks of rice, potatoes and onions, cartons of eggs and packs of baby diapers. The journey in either direction is usually several kilometers.

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Iraqi troops reach Tigris River, but more challenges ahead in battle for Mosul

Molly Hennessy-Fiske writes for LA Times:

Iraqi forces this week reached a bridge over the Tigris River that bisects the city of Mosul, gaining a strategic advantage over Islamic State militants whom commanders described as increasingly desperate.

“I saw many ISIL run away,” said Maj. Gen. Najim Jabouri, Iraqi army commander for the Mosul offensive, using an acronym for the militant group as he returned from the front line in Mosul on Monday. “Some of them go to another bank of the river. Some of them run to Rashidiyah, [to] the north of Mosul.”

Nearly three months after an offensive was launched to recapture the city, Iraqi forces still face significant challenges.

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The Fight for Mosul

Riyadh Mohammed writes for Foreign Affairs:

As the battle to retake Mosul from the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) stretches into its fourth month, the Iraqi army has won applause from the far corners of the globe. U.S. Brigadier General Rick Uribe said the Iraqi forces are “at their peak” and “will continue to improve because of the lessons they are learning on a daily basis.” Nevertheless, the battle is expected to last many more months.

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Iraqi Kurdistan, Caught Between Worlds

Dexter Filkins writes for The New Yorker:

The Kurdish region of northern Iraq stands between different worlds: present and past, modernity and tradition, freedom and danger.

The area has been autonomous since 1991, following the end of the Gulf War, when American jets set up what they called a “no-fly zone” over Kurdish territory, effectively preventing Saddam Hussein’s armies and air force from moving into the area. With a different language, history, and culture, the Kurds have stood apart from the rest of Iraq ever since the country was carved from the desert, in 1920. In the quarter century since the Kurds have been on their own, they have built something close to an independent state, with a flourishing economy and a thriving local culture. With the rest of Iraq in turmoil—the Kurds face isis along a six-hundred-and-fifty-mile-long front—the region is a refuge of calm.

The pictures by the American photographer Sebastian Meyer, who documented Iraqi Kurdistan between 2008 and 2016, capture the region’s contrasts, which often exist side by side. Drive around Iraqi Kurdistan today and you might find, on this side of the road, workers manning a high-tech oil pipeline, which pumps crude north into Turkey and on to the Mediterranean; on the other side, a group of farmers taking a break, setting down their scythes in a scene that looks as old as a century. During the day, you drive past a gleaming new high-rise tower in Erbil or Suleimaniyah, the region’s two biggest cities; at night, you attend a Kurdish wedding, where the families of the bride and groom celebrate in a way that hasn’t changed for generations. But the rollicking present is deceptive; everywhere, the relics of history present themselves, usually in the form of the leftover detritus of some past war. Mass graves—dug by Saddam’s armies, filled with Kurdish bodies—still mark the landscape here, are still being discovered, excavated and emptied.

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