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

Exclusive Photos Show Destruction of Nineveh Gates by ISIS

Kristin Romey writes for National Geographic:

National Geographic has received exclusive photographs that appear to confirm the destruction of the Mashki and Nergal Gates by the Islamic State (ISIS) at the ancient site of Nineveh in Iraq.

Unconfirmed reports of the destruction of Nineveh's iconic gates began to emerge late last week but were just confirmed by Michael Danti, professor of archaeology at Boston University and co-director of theCultural Heritage Initiative (CHI) at theAmerican Schools of Oriental Research. The Initiative works with the U.S. Department of State to document destruction of cultural and religious sites in Iraq and Syria.

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Why the Mosul offensive has yet to succeed

Mohammed A. Salih writes for Al-Monitor:

At times, Kurdish Gen. Ziryan Shekhwasani accompanied Iraqi army Gen. Najim al-Jabouri to survey through binoculars the battlefield on top of al-Nasr village just a couple of kilometers away. At other times, Shekhwasani stood with his peshmerga troops looking with an air of exasperation at how his Iraqi counterparts were conducting the bloody fight against the Islamic State (IS) militants.

The two generals are the point men of their respective forces, Kurdish peshmerga and the Iraqi army, in this southeastern corner of Ninevah province, a vast area of flat plains occasionally interrupted by a hill or cut apart farther ahead by the Tigris River. Cooperation between the two generals and their forces is key in liberating Ninevah and its prized city of Mosul from IS. Yet it was not difficult to see that the relationship between the two sides is uneasy. The peshmerga here do not have an active combat role and provide more of a back-line support, but they are ready to boost up Iraqi forces in case IS attacks or those forces have to retreat. The frontline here is also close to the town of Makhmour, meaning the Kurds have a vested interest in pushing IS away from the area.

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Iraqi families sell organs to overcome poverty

Ahmed Maher reports for BBC News:

Om Hussein is a mother close to breaking point. Along with her husband and their four young children, she is struggling with poverty like millions of other Iraqis.

Her husband, Ali, is unemployed. He is diabetic and has heart problems. She has been the breadwinner for the past nine years, eking out a living as a housemaid. But she is now exhausted, and can no longer work.

"I am tired and we cannot make any money to pay for the rent, medicine, children's needs and food," Ms Hussein said at the family's temporary one bedroom home in eastern Baghdad.

Their dilapidated house collapsed a few months ago, and they have survived thanks to the help of friends and relatives.

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Iraq’s Sadr calls for protests to bring about new cabinet

Reuters reports:

Iraq's powerful Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Wednesday called for renewed protests after the nation's politicians missed a deadline he gave to vote on a cabinet of technocrats proposed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to tackle corruption.

In a statement received by email, Sadr called for "continuing peaceful protests under the same intensity and even more in order to pressure the politicians and the lovers of corruption."

"Nobody has the right to stop it otherwise the revolution will take another turn," he said in the statement.

Sadr renewed his call for the parliament to vote on the cabinet overhaul and asked MPs that represent him not to take part in any session other than the one to be convened for that purpose.

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Good Morning, Mosul

Ahmed Jadallah photographs for Reuters:

An Iraqi soldier works at a radio station at Makhmour base, Iraq, April 17, 2016. The Iraqi army has set up a radio station at its base in Makhmour broadcasting into areas south of Mosul controlled by Islamic State militants. The radio, which reaches villages halfway to the northern city, broadcasts military anthems and messages to the more than one million civilians living there. Radio operators said their aim was to weaken the militants’ morale and reassure civilians that the military has not forgotten them after nearly two years under Islamic State control.

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Will Popular Mobilization Units join operations to liberate Mosul?

Ali Mamouri writes for Al-Monitor:

On March 24, Brig. Gen. Yahay Rasoul, the spokesman for the Joint Special Operations Command, the special operations task force in the fight against the Islamic State (IS), told Iraqi state TV that the operation to liberate Mosul was jointly launched by the Iraqi forces and the US-led coalition. Prior to the announcement, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a statement in February that the campaign to liberate Mosul would be launched soon. In a TV statement Dec. 28, he said that the mission would be completed in 2016.

However, disagreements between the forces that will be involved in the Mosul liberation continue to prevail in the political scene. This is true particularly since the Arab Sunnis fear the engagement of the peshmerga forces and the predominantly Shiite Popular Mobilization Units in the fighting in Mosul. This fear is understandable since the peshmerga forces represent the Kurds and the Popular Mobilization Units represent the Shiites. Sunni Arabs have warned against the presence of these two forces in Mosul and its surroundings, as the Sunnis fear the repercussions that could occur if Kurdish and Shiite forces enter the city, which has a Sunni majority and other small minorities.

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Peshmerga salaries to be paid from US $415m financial assistance

Zhelwan Z. Wali writes for Rudaw:

The US Defense Secretary has announced that the US is going to allot $415 million to the Kurdish Peshmerga forces and are committing an additional over 200 troops to the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq.

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter was in Baghdad on Monday to finalize the agreement.

The $415 million allocated to the Peshmerga will be paid over several months to "pay the Peshmergas’ salaries and other necessities," Jabar Yawar, Chief of Staff of the Peshmerga Ministry, confirmed to Rudaw.

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INTERVIEW-Iraq may sell $2 billion in bonds, betting on aid to lower costs

Maher Chmaytelli writes for Reuters:

Iraq may go ahead with plans to sell $2 billion in bonds in the next three months, hoping that international aid will lower the cost of borrowing that derailed earlier plans to issue the debt, the governor of the Iraqi central bank said in a interview Tuesday in Baghdad.

Iraq would like to see the yield drop to 5 percent from the 11 percent investors originally demanded, Governor Ali al-Alak said. The sale could be managed by banks including Standard Chartered, Deutsche Bank and Citi, he said.

Iraq had called off a sale of U.S. dollar-denominated bonds in October 2015 rather than pay the 11 percent yield. It revived those plans in December 2015, saying gains against Islamic State and the support of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund should cut its costs.

Iraq last sold debt internationally in 2006, when it issued about $2.7 billion of bonds due in 2028 with a coupon of 5.8 percent. Those bonds now trade around 70 cents on the dollar, for a yield of 11.66 percent. Standard & Poor's rates Iraq's long-term credit at B-, six notches below investment-grade.

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Iraq’s Sadr heads to Najaf after Beirut visit

AP reports:

Prominent Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr Tuesday departed Lebanon heading to Iraq following an unannounced visit to Beirut.

Sadr headed to the Shiite holy city of Najaf, a source at Beirut's Rafik Hariri International Airport told The Daily Star.

He reportedly arrived in Beirut on April 10, in a discreet visit outside the media spotlight.

The nature of his trip remains unclear.

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Turkish warplanes hits Kurdish militant PKK targets in Iraq: statement

Reuters reports:

Turkish warplanes struck targets of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in northern Iraq on Monday, the military said in a statement on Tuesday.

Thousands of militants and hundreds of civilians and soldiers have been killed since the PKK resumed its fight for Kurdish autonomy last summer, ending a 2-1/2-year ceasefire and shattering peace efforts.

Turkish warplanes have frequently struck PKK targets since the conflict revived, mainly hitting the group's bases in northern Iraq.

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