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

Local Intel Key in House-To-House Battle for Iraq’s Mosul

AP reports:

When Islamic State militants in Mosul discovered that Ahmed's brother had served in the army, they went to his house, pulled him into the street, and shot him dead as his parents watched.

Now, it was time for revenge, and after two years of ferrying the extremists around as a taxi driver, Ahmed had plenty of information to offer special forces at a command post in an east Mosul apartment on Friday.

"They're in this church, and only God knows what goes on in there," he told intelligence officers, pointing out map coordinates during a half-hour session. They met in a living room used to receive residents just a few blocks away from the battle, some seeking help, others being questioned, while the unlucky ones faced interrogation or stern reprimands for various infractions. Ahmed asked his full name be withheld for fear of reprisals.

Click here for the entire story

Iraq’s Sunni Lawmakers to Challenge Legal Recognition of Shiite Militias

Tamer El-Ghobashy and Ghassan Adnan report for The Wall Street Journal:

Iraq’s Sunni lawmakers pledged on Sunday to challenge in court a newly passed law that formalizes the combat role of Iranian-backed Shiite militias, one of the country’s more powerful adversaries of Islamic State.

The legislation legally empowers the militias and makes them ultimately answerable to Iraq’s prime minister, but it also allows groups that have been accused of abuses against Sunnis to maintain command structures separate from the nation’s police and military.

The move raises questions of who will oversee the militias on the battlefield and feeds into criticism from Sunnis that such divisions threaten to partition the country along sectarian lines.

Click here for the entire story

In northern Iraq, Yazidis risk all to flee Islamic State

John Davison writes for Reuters:

When shells began crashing around the town of Tal Afar as Shi'ite militias brought the fight to Islamic State in northern Iraq, Abu Faraj saw his chance to escape captivity.

He and 17 other members of the Yazidi religious community, one of Iraq's oldest minorities, moved to the town's outskirts while their Islamic State captors were busy with the battle.

Four days later, in the early evening, they fled. The group, which included women and children, walked overnight through the desert and hours later reached Kurdish-controlled territory -- and safety.

Click here for the entire story

Iraq’s parliament adopts law legalizing Shiite militias

Hamza Hendawi and Qassim Abdul-Zahra report for AP:

Rekindling sectarian rivalries at a sensitive time, Iraq’s parliament on Saturday voted to fully legalize state-sanctioned Shiite militias long accused of abuses against minority Sunnis, adopting a legislation that promoted them to a government force empowered to “deter” security and terror threats facing the country, like the Islamic State group.

The legislation, supported by 208 of the chamber’s 327 members, was quickly rejected by Sunni Arab politicians and lawmakers as proof of the “dictatorship” of the country’s Shiite majority and evidence of its failure to honor promises of inclusion.

“The majority does not have the right to determine the fate of everyone else,” Osama al-Nujaifi, one of Iraq’s three vice presidents and a senior Sunni politician, told reporters after the vote, which was boycotted by many Sunni lawmakers.

Click here for the entire story

Iraq’s Najaf Cemetery Swells as Fight Against IS Escalates

Sinan Salaheddin writes for AP:

Wailing and pounding their chests in grief, a dozen women clad in mourning black gathered around a tomb in the massive cemetery in Iraq's holy Shiite city of Najaf. A short distance away, a grief-stricken man cried silently inside his car, parked next to a friend's tomb.

The two granite tombs belong to Shiite militiamen who fell in the ongoing campaign to dislodge the extremist Islamic State group from the northern city of Mosul. They are the latest addition to the cemetery known as Wadi al-Salam, or Valley of Peace, already home to millions of graves of Shiites from Iraq and elsewhere. It's the final resting place of choice for pious Shiites because of its proximity to the shrine of Imam Ali, the much revered 7th century founder of their sect.

With the government not publicizing the casualty figures of the Shiite-dominated security forces fighting in Mosul and elsewhere in northern Iraq, the cemetery offers one reliable, if not entirely accurate, indicator of battlefield losses from the government side. Sunni soldiers who die fighting are buried elsewhere.

Click here for the entire story

After Mosul, Iraq’s Kurds Face Internal Crisis

Yaroslav Trofimov writes for The Wall Street Journal:

The last time the speaker of the Kurdistan regional parliament in northern Iraq tried to go to work, more than a year ago, armed troops blocked the highway.

The legislature of the self-ruled Kurdish region hasn’t gathered since then. The mandate of Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani, already extended by lawmakers for two years, expired in August 2015. As Kurdish troops fight against Islamic State, also known as ISIS, in nearby Mosul, Kurdistan is operating without key ministers, such as finance and defense.

“We don’t have a legal president, we don’t have an active parliament, and we don’t have a functioning government,” said the parliament’s speaker, Yousif Sadiq. “If this political crisis continues, the entire system will just collapse. There is a lot of anger in the Kurdistan region, and it is quiet so far because people are being responsible and are waiting. But after ISIS is gone, they won’t be waiting anymore.”

Click here for the entire story

Iraq Commanders Weigh Tactical Shift in Mosul

Tamer El-Ghobashy and Ali A. Nabhan write for The Wall Street Journal:

Ahead of the battle to oust Islamic State from its Mosul stronghold, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi sent a message to residents: Stay in your homes.

Now, more than a month into the battle, Iraq’s top military commanders are lobbying Mr. Abadi to shift tactics, officials said, as the initial lightning advance toward Iraq’s second biggest city turns into a perilous urban slog, with gains measured in feet rather than miles.

Commanders want the government to encourage residents of Mosul to flee through the handful of neighborhoods the military has already secured, they said, and thereby free the military to use heavy artillery and air power that could cause widespread harm in densely populated neighborhoods.

Click here for the entire story

ISIS Bomb Aimed at Shiite Pilgrims in Iraq Kills at Least 80

Tim Arango writes for The New York Times:

At least 80 people, many of them Shiite pilgrims on their way home to Iran, were killed on Thursday when an Islamic State suicide bomber detonated a truck filled with explosives at a roadside service station in southern Iraq, local officials said.

The devastating attack came two days after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi applauded the security forces for protecting the millions of Shiites who have flowed through southern Iraq in recent days for what many consider the world’s largest religious pilgrimage, larger even than the hajj in Saudi Arabia.

Until the bombing on Thursday, for which the Islamic State claimed responsibility in a statement, the event had been carried out safely. That was seen as a success for Mr. Abadi and the military, and was hailed as a sign that the government could keep pushing a major offensive against the Islamic State in Mosul, while protecting pilgrims in the south.

Click here for the entire story

ISIS: A catastrophe for Sunnis

Liz Sly write for The Washington Post:

The Islamic State is being crushed, its fighters are in retreat and the caliphate it sought to build in the image of a bygone glory is crumbling.

No religious or ethnic group was left unscathed by the Islamic State’s sweep through Iraq and Syria. Shiites, Kurds, Christians and the tiny Yazidi minority have all been victims of a campaign of atrocities, and they now are fighting and dying in the battles to defeat the militants.

But the vast majority of the territory overrun by the Islamic State was historically populated by Sunni Arabs, adherents of the branch of Islam that the group claims to champion and whose interests the militants profess to represent. The vast majority of the 4.2 million Iraqis who have been displaced from their homes by the Islamic State’s war are Sunnis. And as the offensives get underway to capture Mosul, Iraq’s biggest Sunni city, and Raqqa, the group’s self-proclaimed capital in Syria, more Sunni towns and villages are being demolished, and more Sunni livelihoods are being destroyed.

Click here for the entire story

Iraq forces cut off IS-held Mosul from Syria

Ahmad Mousa with Salam Faraj report for AFP:

Forces battling the Islamic State group in northern Iraq cut off the jihadists' last supply line from Mosul to Syria Wednesday, trapping them in the city for a bloody last stand.

A day after the last major bridge over the Tigris in Mosul was bombed by the US-led coalition against IS, elite forces fighting in the east of the city also reported significant progress.

To the west of Mosul, Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) paramilitary forces made a push to cut the road between two towns on the route heading to Syria, security officials said.

Click here for the entire story

Page 3 of 53912345...102030...Last »