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

After more than $1.6 billion in U.S. aid, Iraq’s army still struggles

Loveday Morris and Missy Ryan report for The Washington Post:

In the days before his death last month, Col. Ihab Hashem al-Araji confided that his battle against the Islamic State too often felt like a suicide mission, despite the more than $1.6 billion in U.S. arms and training that has flowed to the Iraqi army over the past two years.

He had even begun taking a white funeral shroud to the battlefield with him.

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Kurdish militant group claims Istanbul bombing, warns tourists not safe

Erin Cunningham reports for The Washington Post:

A Kurdish militant group on Friday warned foreign tourists that they are no longer safe in Turkey as its fighters target security forces in cities across the country.

The warning from the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) came as the group also claimed a car bomb attack in central Istanbul earlier this week, raising fears the country's largest city and economic powerhouse could become the scene of more carnage.

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U.S., Iraqi officials can’t confirm report Islamic State leader Baghdadi wounded

Reuters reports:

U.S. and Iraqi officials fighting Islamic State said on Friday they could not confirm a report by an Iraqi TV channel that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been wounded in an air strike in northern Iraq.

A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting the radical Islamist militants, Colonel Chris Garver, said in an email that he had seen the reports but had “nothing to confirm this at this time”.

Kurdish and Arab security officials in northern Iraq said they also could not confirm the report.

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Funding is running out to help people fleeing Fallujah, UN relief official warns

The UN News Centre reports:

The United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Iraq said today she is deeply concerned by the unfolding humanitarian crisis in the besieged city of Fallujah, warning that funding is insufficient to continue to carry out the massive relief operation that is currently under way.

“Humanitarians are working around the clock to provide assistance. We want to do more, and need to do more to ensure families have shade, shelter, health care, food, and water,” said Lise Grande, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq.

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Meet the Navy SEAL leading the fight against ISIS messaging

Patrick Tucker reports for DefenseOne:

As the Islamic State, ISIS or Daesh, continues to lose territory in Iraq and Syria, it’s their next act that most concerns Michael Lumpkin, the Obama administration’s new counter-propaganda czar.

“What I fear is that Daesh, once it’s constrained on the battlespace, it will rebrand itself as something else. And then we have to be ready for that,” Lumpkin, told Defense One in an interview at the State Department. “but not two years after.”

Lumpkin is referring to the State Department’s slow-to-launch campaign to fight ISIS’s robust online messaging campaign he was called in to turn into something, well better.

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Iraq’s Fake Populism and Anti-sectarianism

Kirk H. Sowell writes in Sada:

A mob loyal to Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr sacked Iraq’s parliament on April 30, exacerbating the country’s seemingly permanent political crisis and bringing the tenure of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to a new low.

The government’s political paralysis is severe even by Iraqi standards, with parliament struggling to make quorum, and the legal legitimacy of its leadership in question. While a new military operation to free Fallujah from terrorist control has temporarily grabbed media attention, Iraq’s political crisis continues.

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Iraq, Syria, and the Gulf: The Cost of an ISIS-Centric U.S. Strategy

Anthony H. Cordesman writes for CSIS:

The United States seems to be succeeding in putting more and more pressure on ISIS. Although it is far from clear when ISIS will be defeated in either Syria or Iraq, the combination of anti-ISIS forces in each country now seems likely to inflict a series of steady defeats, and ISIS may lose control of a number of major population centers at some point between the end of the year and mid-2017.

Any such victory, however, depends on the various anti-ISIS factions in Syria and Iraq avoiding deeper conflict among themselves. Victory also will be limited even in terms of the defeat of ISIS. Many ISIS fighters will escape. ISIS already has cells and affiliates in other countries. And—just as Al Qa’ida in Mesopotamia transformed itself into ISIS—there will still be movements committed to equally violent forms of Islamist extremism such as the Al Nusra Front. The “war against terrorism” will go on, perhaps focusing even more on outside states, while the vengeful fighters will disperse to other countries.

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Repair of Iraqi parliament hall costs $5 million, report

Rudaw reports:

The Iraqi parliament’s grand session hall that was vandalized by rioters last April will cost around $5 million to repair, according to a parliament report that has examined the damages.

Angry rioters stormed the Iraqi parliament on April 30 despite the heavy security around the building and occupied, among others, the hall number 4 where the general meetings usually take place.

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Twin bombings kill at least 28 in Iraq’s Baghdad

Al Jazeera reports:

At least 28 people have been killed and scores more wounded in bombings targeting a commercial street and an army checkpoint in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, Iraqi police say.

A car packed with explosives blew up on Thursday in a commercial street of Baghdad al-Jadeeda, an eastern district of Baghdad, killing more than 15 people and wounding more than 50, a police officer said.

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Iraq troops free first neighborhood in ISIS-held Falluja, military says

Joshua Berlinger, Tim Hume and Mohammed Tawfeeq report for CNN:

Iraqi security forces have recaptured their first neighborhood in ISIS-held Falluja, the military announced Wednesday, in the wake of U.N. warnings that fleeing civilians faced a threat from government-allied militias.

Iraq military spokesman Col. Mohammed Ibrahim told CNN that the neighborhood of al-Shuhada al-Thaniya in southern Falluja had been liberated, and Iraq's flag was now flying over a government building in the area.

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