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

Despite fears, American followers of Islamic State are few

Hannah Allam writes for McClatchy:

After remarks that painted a doomsday scenario of lone wolves, random attacks and radicalization via cellphone, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., had one last ominous thing to say about the Islamic State’s ability to attack the United States.

“This threat from the foreign fighters cannot be overstated,” he warned.

When it comes to the Islamic State’s threat to the United States, overstatements are the norm, with rhetoric of the kind Meadows used at a congressional hearing Wednesday sounding alarmist when compared with data and other assessments of the group’s ability to attack the United States after years of stepped-up U.S. efforts to fight extremism here and in the Middle East.

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U.S. offers humanitarian aid as Iraq prepares Mosul offensive

Stephen Kalin writes for Reuters:

The United States said on Wednesday it would give Iraq $181 million in humanitarian aid, anticipating a wave of displaced people when Iraqi forces launch a drive to recapture the northern city of Mosul from Islamic State.

The advance on Mosul, the biggest city held by the militant group also known as ISIL, could begin as soon as next month.

"We are now in a position where ISIL here in Iraq is increasingly on the run and on the ropes, and the urgent work ahead is to complete that effort. And Mosul, of course, is the big piece ahead of Iraq and ahead of us," Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters in Baghdad.

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US destroys IS chemical threat in Iraq

AP reports:

The US military has bombed an Islamic State facility in Iraq that a senior general calls a "significant chemical threat" to Iraqi civilians.

Lieutenant General Jeffrey Harrigian told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday that the target was an Islamic State headquarters also used to produce lethal chemicals, possibly including chlorine and mustard gas.

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Exclusive: Inside the anti-Islamic State air campaign command center

Jim Michaels writes for USA Today:

Air Force Maj. Gen. Jay Silveria examined the photos arrayed on a table in a conference room. The grainy pictures showed a small oil well and collection pool operated by the Islamic State in the Syrian desert.

The targeting officer gave Silveria a brief pitch: This was an opportunity to hit a key source of Islamic State revenue. No civilians were around, and a pair of U.S. A-10 attack planes could get there quickly. The general turned to a military lawyer to see if he had any legal concerns. He didn’t.

The strike is one example of how the U.S. operation against the Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria has become the most tightly managed air campaign in the history of warfare. USA TODAY was granted rare access to the command center here to witness how the team carries out that campaign.

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Is Mosul heading for a last ‘apocalyptic’ IS stand?

Orla Guerin writes for BBC News:

Whatever else the battle for Mosul may involve, it will not be the element of surprise.

The operation to drive so-called Islamic State (IS) from Iraq's second-largest city has been long promised and much delayed.

The latest indications are it could begin next month, more than two years after IS took Mosul and proclaimed its caliphate.

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In newly liberated Qayyarah, Iraq

Atheer Al-Yaseen and Chris Niles write for UNICEF:

When I entered Qayyarah I had a flashback of returning to my hometown of Baghdad after the invasion of 2003. I’d been away for many years as a refugee. 2003 was the first time back since I was a young child.

In Qayyarah, as I had seen in Baghdad, there’s no security. People are scared and shocked. There are dead bodies in the street, and the city is littered with improvised explosive devices and mines. There are many military prisons, military graffiti, and white flags everywhere – on cars, trucks and the roofs of houses.

It was 48° C that day, and we could hardly breathe. Retreating armed groups had opened up oil pipes running through the town.

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Jordanian tourists open door for weekly arrivals to Kurdistan

Rudaw reports:

The first round of Jordanian tourists has arrived in Kurdistan Region with more to arrive every Sunday.

The tourists spent the first day of the Muslim Eid in Soran, a mountainous region of Kurdistan and a popular tourist destination known for its cool climate, water spots and scenery.

Traditionally, many of the tourists who visit this area come from other parts of Iraq, for a chance to cool off and swim in the cold waters. But the popular destination is set to gain ground among foreign visitors, especially from other parts of the Middle East.

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A walk down one of Baghdad’s most bombed streets

Loveday Morris writes for The Washington Post:

The Iraqi capital is no stranger to bombs, but this shopping street in central Baghdad bears a disproportionate share of their misery.

The two-mile stretch that hugs the eastern bank of the Tigris River has been bombed three times this year, a number security forces say has been kept down by frequent road closures.

The worst attack, in July, was the most deadly single suicide bombing the city has ever seen. It killed more than 300. The street was crowded with shoppers preparing to celebrate the end of Ramadan, and the bomb was crafted to direct its blast out to the sides, targeting shop fronts and stalls.

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Iraqi forces in confident mood as they prepare for Mosul battle

Erika Solomon writes for Financial Times:

Since 2014, Mosul has become a byword for despair. Its capture by Isis forces two years ago triggered the humiliating collapse of Iraq’s armed forces. Prospects for the battle to retake the city sparked fears of death, displacement and destruction for its 1m residents.

Now, however, Iraqi and western officials are sounding a note of cautious optimism over plans to recapture one of the de facto capitals of Isis’s so-called caliphate.

What has changed is that Iraqi forces and their US-led international coalition partners have got better, and Isis weaker. Perhaps most importantly, the official says, many Iraqis have replaced their once harsh stance toward Mosul residents with a more inclusive tone — a shift deemed critical for the city’s Sunni population, which has long been wary of mistreatment by Iraq’s Shia-dominated security forces.

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Two Baghdad explosions kill at least three, wound 15

Rudaw reports:

At least three people were killed and 15 wounded by a two bomb attacks in the Iraqi capital on Tuesday.

The first attack was in Baghdad’s northern area and the second in the south.

“An explosive device exploded this morning close to commercial buildings in the Adhamiyah district of northern Baghdad, which led to the death of one person and injured seven others whose wounds vary,” a security source from the interior ministry said in a press statement after the first explosion.

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