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

Leaders of Iraq’s Anbar province call for U.S. ground forces to stop IS

Laura Smith-Spark, Ben Wedeman, and Greg Botelho write for CNN:

ISIS fighters stood Saturday on the verge of taking not just a key Syrian town along the Turkish border, but also an entire province on Baghdad's doorstep -- spurring leaders of that province to urgently plead for U.S. ground troops to halt the Islamist extremist group's rapid, relentless assault. The situation in Anbar, just to the west of Baghdad, is "very bad," said Sabah Al-Karhout, the president of Anbar Provincial Council. ISIS, the self-proclaimed "Islamic State" which also is referred to as ISIL, controls about 80% of the province. Reports Saturday suggest they have encircled Haditha, the last large town in Anbar province not yet in the militants' hands.

Should all of Anbar fall, the Sunni extremists would rule from the perimeter of Iraq's capital to Raqqa in Syria (at least), according to the provincial council's deputy head, Falleh al-Issawi. ISIS threatens area near Baghdad Gen. Wesley Clark: ISIS fight is Iraq redux Iraqi refugees flee from ISIS
To stave off Anbar's collapse, provincial leaders have asked Iraq's central government to intervene immediately and for U.S. ground forces to be deployed there, said al-Issawi.

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Iraq pulls troops from ISIS-held Heet

AFP reports :

Iraqi government troops stationed on the edge of Heet in beleaguered Anbar province have withdrawn to another base, leaving the city under full jihadist control, security sources said on Monday. Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters had assaulted and eventually seized the center of the western city on the Euphrates river, but a sizeable contingent of government forces remained holed up in a nearby base.

“Iraqi forces evacuated Heet training camp last night (Sunday) on the orders of the military command,” a senior police official in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, told AFP. “Our military leaders argued that instead of leaving those forces exposed to attacks by ISIS, they would be best used to shore up the defense of Asad air base,” he said.

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Kurds hold of Islamic State in Kobani; fighters strike in Iraq

Ayla Jean Yackley and Saif Sameer report for Reuters:

Kurdish defenders held off Islamic State militants in Syria's border town of Kobani on Sunday, but the fighters struck with deadly bombings in Iraq, killing dozens of Kurds in the north and assassinating a provincial police commander in the west.

The top U.S. military officer suggested that Washington, which has ruled out joining ground combat in either Iraq or Syria, could nevertheless increase its role "advising and assisting" Iraqi troops on the ground in the future. U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice said in a television interview that Turkey agreed to let bases be used by coalition forces for activities inside Iraq and Syria and to train moderate Syrian rebels in the fight against Islamic State.

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Islamic State says it is buying and selling Yazidi women, using them as concubines

Loveday Morris writes for the Washington Post:

The Islamic State extremist organization boasted Sunday that it had enslaved women from an Iraqi minority group in order to use them as concubines, as a rights organization detailed teenagers being bought and sold by fighters for as little as $1,000.

An English-language propaganda magazine for the Islamic State said that Yazidi women and children were considered spoils of war after they were captured as the militants seized their towns and villages. It was the first confirmation from the group of widespread allegations of detention and sexual abuse against Yazidi women.

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Militants take Iraq army camp as bombs hit Baghdad

AP reports:

Militants with the Islamic State group on Monday captured a military training camp in western Iraq, inching closer to full control of the restive Anbar province, as a spate of deadly bombings shook Baghdad, hitting mostly Shiite neighborhoods and leaving at least 30 dead.

The attacks, which came as Iraqi Shiites marked a major holiday for their sect with families crowding the streets in celebration, raised new concerns that the Sunni militant group is making gains despite U.S.-led coalition airstrikes. British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, on a visit to Iraq, warned that the airstrikes will not be enough to defeat the extremist group and stressed that the Iraqi security forces would have to do the "heavy work on the ground." But Iraqi troops, overstretched and overwhelmed by the Islamic State group's summer blitz that seized large swaths of territory in western and northern Iraq, continued to come under pressure Monday in the western Anbar province, where militants seized an Iraqi military training camp.

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Officer: Iraq military helicopter crashes, crew dead

AFP reports :

An Iraqi military helicopter crashed Wednesday near Baiji, around 200 kilometers (120 miles) north of Baghdad, killing the crew, a senior officer and residents said. An army colonel said the cause of the crash was not immediately clear but residents in Seiniye, where the helicopter went down, said it had been hit by jihadist fighters. “The helicopter was on its way back from Baiji. The entire crew was killed,” the officer said, without specifying how many died in the crash.

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White House grapples with limits of air campaign in Iraq and Syria

David S. Cloud writes for the Los Angeles Times:

As warplanes from the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates pounded Islamic State fighters near the Syrian city of Kobani for a third day, the U.S.-led military campaign began running up against the limits of what air power can accomplish.

"Airstrikes alone are not going to save the town of Kobani," Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters at the Pentagon on Wednesday, adding that the militants "are going to continue to grab ground, and there are going to continue to be villages, towns and cities that they take" in Iraq and Syria. Kirby's frank acknowledgment came after nine weeks of bombing by the U.S. and its allies, which has not stopped Islamic militants from claiming new territory in both Syria and Iraq, a setback that military officials blamed on the poor performance of Iraqi and Syrian forces battling them on the ground.

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Two months of U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, mapped

Dan Lamothe writes for the Washington Post:

As noted on Checkpoint earlier this morning, President Obama visits the Pentagon today, two months after the United States began launching airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq. Those strikes have since been expanded into Syria, where they have been carried out regularly since Sept. 23. The map above outlines where those airstrikes have occurred as of Tuesday night. For those following the conflict, the size and location of the red bubbles may not come as a surprise. But there are still certain details worth noting:

The bubble growing the most quickly is around Kobane, the border town in northern Syria near Turkey. Eighteen strikes had been disclosed there since late Tuesday, and U.S. Central Command announced six more overnight. That puts the number at 24. Kobane has been under siege by the Islamic State for months, with many civilians fleeing and others staying to fight alongside Kurdish forces.

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Tha challenge of urban warfare with ISIS

Michael Soussan writes for the Wall Street Journal:

The survival or breakdown of Islamic State, aka ISIS, hinges on the outcome of what promises to be a grueling battle for control of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. Since the city’s fall on June 10, reports of mass executions have been confirmed by fleeing refugees. The ISIS jihadis have committed a “staggering array” of human-rights abuses including ethnic cleansing, abductions, rape, and other physical and sexual violence against women and children, according to a United Nations report released Oct. 2.

To understand the challenge of retaking Mosul, a densely populated city with some 1.8 million residents, consider Israel’s experiences in Gaza this year and the U.S. experience in Fallujah in November 2004. Fallujah was the single most violent urban battle in the Iraq war. Ninety-five American soldiers were killed taking the city and 560 were wounded. The majority of the city’s 250,000 residents fled before the battle, but according to U.S. officials more than half of the city’s homes were damaged and about 10,000 destroyed.

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War on ISIS in Iraq, Syria has cost U.S. $1.1B since June: Pentagon

Avaneesh Pandey writes for International Business Times:

The United States has spent $1.1 billion on military operations against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria since mid-June, according to data released by the Pentagon on Monday, the Associated Press, or AP, reported. The cost of the operation in Iraq increased significantly in August when President Barack Obama authorized airstrikes in the region.

Of the $1.1 billion, more than $60 million have been spent on Navy munitions alone, which include 47 Tomahawk cruise missiles fired by American warships from the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. The bulk of these missiles targeted al Qaeda-linked Khorasan group near the Syrian city of Aleppo, AP reported. The figures released by the U.S. Central Command reportedly did not provide a cost estimate for ammunitions used by the Air Force, which is expected to be significantly higher.

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