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

Iraqi forces retake two Falluja districts from Islamic State, push west

Reuters reports:

Iraq's armed forces pressed on with their offensive to retake the city of Falluja from Islamic State on Tuesday, dislodging the militants from two eastern districts and pushing them back into a handful of northern and western neighborhoods.

A military statement said the elite counter-terrorism forces took the northeastern Shurta police district while units from Baghdad operations command recaptured the Askari military neighborhood.

Islamic State still held the northern districts of Jughaifi and Golan as well as the western banks of the Tigris river.

Click here for the entire story

Falluja Restaurant Is Reborn in Baghdad, Offering Nostalgia With Its Kebab

Tim Arango writes for The New York Times:

Long before Falluja was known the world over for deadly jihadists, it was known all over Iraq for its kebab — fatty lamb, ground and mixed with onion, grilled on a skewer over an open fire and served with a pinch of sumac — at a joint called Haji Hussein.

Everyone, it seemed, ate at Haji Hussein: locals, soldiers, tourists and businessmen traveling the Baghdad-to-Amman highway that runs through the city. Starting in 2003, journalists covering the war ate there, and so did American soldiers and the insurgents who fought them, perhaps even at the same time.

The restaurant was damaged by bombs multiple times, and entirely flattened once by an American airstrike. It was rebuilt, embraced as a symbol of Falluja’s own rebirth after years of war, only to be abandoned when the city fell to the Islamic State more than two years ago.

Now the much-loved kebab restaurant has been reborn again, this time in Baghdad, in a modern, three-story building in the upscale Mansour neighborhood.

Click here for the entire story

UNHCR warns of Iraq funding crunch as thousands flee Falluja

UNHCR reports:

With tens of thousands of civilians pouring out of the embattled Iraqi city of Falluja in recent days, US$17.5 million is urgently needed to meet their  immediate needs, the UN Refugee Agency said today.

More than 85,000 people have fled Falluja and the surrounding area since a government military offensive to retake the city from extremists began a month ago, on May 23.

About 60,000 of these fled over a period of just three days last week, between 15 to 18 June. Thousands more could still be planning to leave the city, UNHCR spokeswoman Ariane Rummery told a news briefing in Geneva on Tuesday (June 21).

“The funds are desperately needed to expand the number of camps and to provide urgently needed relief supplies for displaced people who have already endured months of deprivation and hardship without enough food or medicine,” Rummery stressed. “We also need funds to provide psycho-social and other support to this exhausted and deeply traumatised population.”

Click here for the entire story

The Wars After The War For Sinjar: How Washington Can Avert A New Civil War

Christine Mccaffray Van Den Toorn writes for War on the Rocks:

While the frontline with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) lies only 4.5 kilometers south of Sinjar, a potentially more dangerous threat looms much closer to home. Parts of northern Sinjar — a district separated by the now-infamous 70-kilometer-long mountain — were liberated in December 2014. The district center south of the mountain was cleared of ISIL in November 2015. A mixture of forces — independent Yezidis, Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Peshmerga — took part in both operations, but ISIL still occupies the southern villages of Sinjar.

As I discovered during a number of visits to the town over the last 18 months, Sinjar is rapidly becoming a playground for proxy struggles between regional rivals fighting zero-sum confrontations. Amid these battles, local Yezidis – a religious minority group numbering around 500,000 in Iraq which makes up the large the majority of the population of Sinjar –  are being forced to choose sides. These dynamics are common across many of the territories liberated from ISIL, as competing factions push and pull local populations in their struggle for power. Within Sinjar, these forces risk igniting an internecine conflict among Yezidis that could be just as dangerous as the ISIL invasion of their territory in August 2014.

Click here for the entire story

Iraq Battles IS in Fallujah Days After Declaring Victory

AP reports:

An Iraqi military commander says his forces are battling Islamic State militants in the northern neighborhoods of Fallujah days after most of the city was declared liberated.

Brig. Gen. Haider al-Obeidi told The Associated Press on Monday that militants are holed up in houses and buildings, saying he hopes to clear them out "in the coming few days."

Al-Obeidi says most of the fighters are foreigners who cannot melt into the local population or sneak into other parts of the country still controlled by the extremist group. They include snipers and fighters armed with rocket-propelled grenades.

Click here for the entire story

UN: thousands of Iraqi civilians flee Fallujah amid clashes

Qassim Abdul-Zahra reports for AP:

Thousands of civilians are fleeing Fallujah after the city was declared liberated from the Islamic State group, the United Nations said, while an Iraqi commander reported fierce clashes as elite counterterrorism forces pushed to clear out the remaining militants.

IS fighters launched missiles, detonated a suicide car bomb and deployed snipers against Iraqi forces, Brig. Gen. Haider al-Obeidi said. “Iraqi forces are still advancing despite the strong clashes,” he said.

Over the past three days, the U.N. says that nearly ten thousand families have fled Fallujah amid the heavy fighting. More than 80,000 civilians have fled Fallujah and its surrounding areas since the operation to retake the city from IS was announced last month, according to the U.N.

“Agencies are scrambling to respond to the rapidly evolving situation and we are bracing ourselves for another large exodus in the next few days as we estimate that thousands more people remain trapped in Fallujah,” said Bruno Geddo, the representative for the U.N.’s refugee agency in Iraq, in a statement Sunday.

Click here for the entire story

What the Islamic State Has Won and Lost

Sarah Almukhtar, Tim Wallace and Derek Watkins write for The New York Times:

Maps often depict the Islamic State as a sprawling territory across Iraq and Syria. But the group’s control has been shaped by about 126 places — cities, towns, infrastructure and bases — where it has had military dominance.

The group has been forced out of about 55 places where it once had control, including four major cities, since it made rapid advances across the two countries in 2014. And it could soon lose Falluja, the first city it controlled.

In June 2014, the Islamic State stunned the world when it seized Mosul, by far the largest city it controls, from Iraqi soldiers who dropped their weapons and fled.

But the group’s momentum has shifted. “The caliphate has been crumbling at the edges,” said Columb Strack, a senior analyst at IHS Conflict Monitor, an organization that has been tracking which cities and towns make up the militant group’s territory.

Click here for the entire story

Iraq Says Military Has Retaken Central Fallujah From Islamic State

Tamer El-Ghobashy and Nour Malas report for The Wall Street Journal:

Iraqi security forces raised the national flag in Fallujah on Friday, claiming control over the center of the city that was the first to fall to Islamic State when it blitzed across the country two years ago.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi celebrated the advance on national television but stopped short of declaring complete victory in the nearly month-old offensive against one of the Sunni extremist group’s two remaining strongholds in Iraq—and the closest to Baghdad.

The military said it was still battling pockets of militants in outlying districts, as desperate civilians fled the fighting.

“Fallujah has returned to the embrace of the country,” Mr. Abadi said. “We promised to liberate the city and now our heroic security forces fulfilled this promise.”

Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, spokesman for the joint operations command in Baghdad, said hours earlier that they hoped “to cleanse the whole of Fallujah” in the next few days.

Click here for the entire story

Will Iraq’s wetlands join World Heritage List?

Omar Sattar writes for Al-Monitor:

The archaeological sites of Ur, Eridu and Uruk as well as the Iraqi marshlands are under consideration for UNESCO's World Heritage List. The decision will be made at the World Heritage Committee meeting to be held July 10-20 in Turkey, where the UNESCO member states will vote on adding new sites to World List.

In anticipation of the event, President Fouad Masoum formed a committee on May 19, headed by presidential adviser Qahtan al-Jubouri. Its members include Deputy Culture Minister Qais Hussein Rashid, Deputy Environment Minister Jassim, adviser to the foreign minister Ihsan al-Awadi, and the provincial council heads of Maysan, Muthanna, Basra and Dhi Qar.

Click here for the entire story

Middle East worst hit by rise in sand and dust storms

Navin Singh Khadka writes for BBC News:

The Middle East has been the worst hit by significant rise in sand and dust storms, with major impacts on human health, United Nations scientists say.

Iran and Kuwait are the most affected countries, largely because of sand and dust blowing in from Syria and Iraq.

Mismanagement of land and water amid conflicts in the region has been a key factor, as well as climate change.

Meteorologists say sand and dust storms are also happening in new places like some parts of Central Asia.

"In the Middle East there has been a significant increase in the frequency and the intensity of sand and dust storms in the past 15 years or so," said Enric Terradellas a meteorologist with the World Meteorology Organisation's sand and dust storm prediction centre for the region.

"One of the main sources of sand and dust storms is Iraq, where the flow of rivers has decreased because of a race in dam constructions in upstream countries.

"That has led to the disappearance of marshes and drying up of lakes both in Iraq and Iran, and the sediments left behind are very important sources of dust in the region."

Click here for the entire story

Page 3 of 49112345...102030...Last »