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

Iraq forces advance in Mosul but civilian toll mounts

John Davison and Stephen Kalin write for Reuters:

Iraqi forces fought their way into more districts of Mosul but advances in the city's southeast were being slowed by Islamic State's use of civilians for cover, military officials said on Tuesday.

The United Nations said civilian casualties had streamed into nearby hospitals in the last two weeks as fighting intensified in the jihadist group's last major stronghold in Iraq.

Advances by elite forces in the city's east and northeast have picked up speed in a new push since the turn of the year, and U.S.-backed forces have for the first time reached the Tigris river, which bisects the city.

Click here for the entire story

In Mosul, Iraq forces face IS drones, mortars, car bombs

Guillaume Decamme writes for AFP:

A small white drone hummed into sight and Thaker, a member of Iraq's special forces, grabbed his machine gun and started lighting up the blue sky above eastern Mosul.

His bullets whizzed all around the hovering unmanned aircraft but failed to take it down. "I shot one down, this morning," Thaker said.

The Counter-Terrorism Service Thaker serves in has been battling the Islamic State group in the streets of Mosul for weeks, dodging sniper and mortar fire, booby traps and suicide car bombs.

Click here for the entire story

Iraq eyes recapture of east Mosul within days

Salam Faraj and Guillaume Decamme report for AFP:

Iraqi forces will retake east Mosul from the jihadists within days, a top commander said Monday, after his fighters in the city reached the Tigris River for the first time.

Baghdad's forces have retaken a series of areas in eastern Mosul since launching an operation to recapture the city from the Islamic State group on October 17, but the west remains under IS control.

East Mosul will be retaken within "a few days, God willing," Staff Lieutenant General Abdulghani al-Assadi, a top commander in Iraq's elite Counter-Terrorism Service, told AFP.

Click here for the entire story

Attacks in and Around Baghdad Kill 23

Sinan Salaheddin reports for AP:

A wave of attacks in and around Baghdad on Sunday killed at least 23 people, the latest in a series of assaults blamed on the Islamic State group.

A suicide car bomb ripped through a wholesale market in the sprawling Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City, killing at least seven people and wounding 15, said Brig. Gen. Saad Maan, the Interior Ministry spokesman. He said a member of the security forces spotted the bomber and opened fire but was unable to prevent the attack.

A policeman and two medical officials gave a higher toll, saying 16 people were killed in the attack and another 47 wounded.

Click here for the entire story

Iraqi forces reach Tigris in Mosul as suicide bombs hit Baghdad

Stephen Kalin and Ahmed Rasheed report for Reuters:

Iraqi special forces battling Islamic State reached the eastern bank of the Tigris river in Mosul on Sunday for the first time in a three-month, U.S-backed offensive to capture the city from the militants, who still control its entire western half.

Units of Iraq's elite counter-terrorism service (CTS) have fought their way to the eastern bank of the Tigris, spokesman Sabah al-Numan said.

It was the first time Iraqi troops in the city itself have reached the river, which bisects Mosul, since the offensive to drive out Islamic State was launched in October. Iraqi forces already control the Tigris to Mosul's south.

Click here for the entire story

Turkish PM Visits Iraq Amid Spat Over Unauthorized Troops

Sinan Salaheddin reports for AP:

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim commenced a two-day visit to Iraq Saturday, the first since the two governments quarreled over the presence of unauthorized Turkish troops in northern Iraq, straining relations between the two neighbors fighting the Islamic State group.

Meanwhile, Iraqi government troops made fresh progress in their push against IS inside the northern city of Mosul, dislodging militants from new areas and for the first time reaching the nearest point to Tigris river that divides the city since the operation began in mid-October.

The presence of some 500 Turkish troops in the Bashiqa region, northeast of the IS-held city of Mosul, has stirred tension with Baghdad since late last year. Iraq has demanded their withdrawal, saying they are there without permission and are in "blatant violation" of Iraqi sovereignty. Turkey says the troops were invited by local Iraqi authorities and has ignored the calls.

Click here for the entire story

Entering Mosul from north, Iraqi army faces gruelling urban combat

Isabel Coles writes for Reuters:

In the morning, spirits were high among Iraqi troops battling Islamic State for control of Mosul as they advanced on the northern edge of the city, helped by a salvo of rockets fired by the U.S.-led coalition.

But as Friday wore on, the mood grew tense on the rooftop behind the frontline where Iraqi commanders and U.S. advisers were coordinating the fighting, as they came up against the challenges of combat in an urban environment and the militants detonated a car bomb.

Vastly outnumbered and overpowered, Islamic State militants have adopted the strategy of waiting for Iraqi forces to reach their target before launching a counterattack when their enemy is worn out after a day's fighting.

Click here for the entire story

To cross the front lines in the battle for Mosul, you just hail a cab

Molly Hennessy-Fiske writes for LA Times:

Sadi Mohamed hadn’t been driving a taxi for long when an airstrike took out his rear window. “The plane was targeting a suicide bomber, and my car was close to it,” he said.

Such are the rigors of driving a cab in Mosul, where more than a million residents are struggling to survive in the midst of combat that has cut them off from food, water and basic services.

As U.S.-backed Iraqi forces storm the city to drive out Islamic State militants, yellow cabs have become a lifeline for many residents, allowing them to zip back and forth across the front lines.

Click here for the entire story

A goody and Abadi

The Economist reports:

They said it would be over by Christmas. Now Haider al-Abadi, Iraq’s prime minister, is suggesting that the battle for Mosul could last until Easter. For almost a month his forces had stalled on what was supposed to be the easier eastern bank of Iraq’s second city. And the costs have been gruelling. A fifth of Iraq’s elite force has reportedly fallen in the assault. With the support of more American special forces, Mr Abadi has launched a second phase, taking the city’s industrial zone. Progress is being made. But what Iraqi soldiers clear by day, Islamic State (IS) fighters often regain by night, thanks to a warren of tunnels under the front lines.

Across Iraq the insurgency has a new lease of life. The sickening rhythm of suicide bombs in Shia suburbs of Baghdad and southern Iraq is quickening again. In Anbar and Salahuddin, provinces long since reclaimed by the government, IS is also flexing its muscles. On January 2nd it won control of a police station in Samarra for several hours and it cut briefly the Baghdad to Mosul road. It is putting out lights in Diyala. “It is not an organisation that is close to collapse,” says an analyst in touch with people in Mosul.

The prolonged campaign carries political costs for Mr Abadi, who had sought to turn himself from a bumbling office-holder into a victorious commander by donning military fatigues. Should there be further mishaps, Mr Abadi’s rivals in Baghdad will be waiting to pounce. Among them is his predecessor, Nouri al-Maliki, and his cohorts in Iraq’s assortment of predominantly Shia militias, which are collectively known as the Hashd al-Shaabi, or popular mobilisation forces (PMF). As the government-led advance on Mosul slows, they are calling for the deployment of Iranian-backed brigades. So short of men are Iraq’s army and police that even some American commanders now welcome the use of these auxiliaries.

Click here for the entire story

Mosul battle: Iraqi troops ‘take key district’ from IS

BBC News reports:

Iraqi forces have made fresh progress in the battle against so-called Islamic State (IS) in Mosul, reportedly taking a key district in the city's east.

Elite troops captured al-Muthana following night-time fighting, an army spokesman said, putting them in a position to take higher ground nearby.

It comes days after Iraqi forces began the second phase of a push to conquer the last major IS stronghold in Iraq.

Click here for the entire story

Page 3 of 55212345...102030...Last »