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

Kirkuk mosque bombing kills child, wounds five others

Rudaw reports:

A young boy was killed and five people wounded by a bomb blast at a mosque in Iraq’s northern city of Kirkuk late Saturday evening, a police official told Rudaw.

“A bomb placed at the Safa mosque in the Yaki Hozairan neighborhood of Kirkuk killed a child and wounded five more people,” Brig. Gen. Sarhad Qadir, head of Kirkuk’s Suburban Police, told Rudaw.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

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US, Iraqi troops close in on last ISIS-held city

Ryan Browne and Barbara Starr report for CNN:

Indications are growing that the attack to retake Mosul, Iraq's second largest city and ISIS' last major stronghold in the country, could begin as soon as next month.

Hundreds of US troops have arrived at an air base 40 miles south of Mosul to support Iraq's efforts to liberate that city, a US defense official told CNN.

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Residents Begin Returning to Iraq’s Fallujah

AP reports:

Families have begun returning to Fallujah three months after the Iraqi city was declared fully liberated from the Islamic State group, an Iraqi official said Saturday.

Forty families were cleared to return after they passed background checks and their neighborhoods were deemed safe, Suhaib al-Rawi, governor of the western Anbar province, said.

In total 236 families returned Saturday to Fallujah and surrounding suburbs, his added. Fallujah, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, had a pre-conflict population of more than 300,000 people.

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Facing Arms Shortages, IS Turns to Homemade Weapons

Kawa Omar and Rikar Hussein write for Voice of America:

As the Islamic State group's arsenal of sophisticated weaponry dwindles, IS fighters are creating more homemade armaments.

Commanders in the battlefield in Iraq told VOA this week that months of separate bombing campaigns by the U.S. coalition, Russian, and Iraqi government planes have wiped out much of the terror group's heavy weapons and equipment that it collected in recent years.

That is forcing IS fighters “to turn to these strange weapons,” said Jamal Syare, the commander of a Kurdish force on the Khazir frontline north of Mosul.

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How Mosul’s Liberation Could Lead to Another Iraqi Civil War

Daniel L. Davis writes for Politico:

On a trip to northern Iraq toward the end of August, I interviewed the Kurdish commander of the Peshmerga 7th Brigade, General Bahram Yassin, about the looming battle for Mosul. Speaking at his forward command post overlooking the leading ISIS defensive lines outside of Mosul, Yassin went into some detail about what he expects to happen when hostilities over this key city commence: hand-to-hand combat, human shields, entrenched ISIS fighters immune to airstrikes and all too happy to experience martyrdom.

ISIS has rigged buildings, roads, and other items to explode and planted IEDs in “virtually every road and every alley,” Yassin told me. “I expect that we’ll have to fight them, taking neighborhood by neighborhood, alley by alley, and sometimes house by house.” Since U.S. troops, artillery and air support will be involved, there could be American casualties.

Despite that fearful prospect, what concerned me most was is what Yassin said about what could happen after the liberation of Mosul. This is going to be a “coalition” offensive—but the coalition isn’t one of different countries. Everyone involved is Iraqi, but they consist of the fractious, mutually mistrustful constituents—Kurdish Peshmerga, Shia militias, the mixed-sectarian bag that is the Iraqi army—of a country that could still easily fall into civil war again after ISIS is defeated. Yassin said one of his major concerns is that binding political agreements won’t be in place prior to the fighting, and if there aren’t clearly articulated limits and responsibilities for each of the attacking forces, it’s not hard to imagine Sunni militias butting heads with Shia militias during the fighting, potentially coming to blows with each other.

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The Other Front Line: Iraqi Schools Need Our Help

John Paul Schnapper-Casteras writes for Defense One:

Young Iraqis are pushing to reclaim their country from extremism and intolerance, not just by joining the military offensive to oust ISIS from Mosul, but also by enrolling at the American University of Iraq in Sulaimani. These paths are more closely linked than they may seem. In their way, they are both front lines in the battle to stabilize Iraq — and they suggest how policymakers and defense leaders should lay their own plans.

One front line lies at the edges of Mosul, where Iraqi forces have for months been waging a grueling and bloody campaign to retake the country’s second-largest city from ISIS. A generation of young people has been devastated by the group’s reign, which has closed eight universities in northern Iraq, shuttered many schools in eastern Syria, and imposed hyper-fundamentalist curricula on the rest. Roughly half of Syrian children can no longer attend school; many are among the roughly 1.5 million refugees under the age of 18. These disruptions can have stark implications: as one Syrian professor put it in a 2014 study by the Institute for International Education: young men will either “continue their studies, or they will join” ISIS.

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Breaking up in Baghdad

The Economist reports:

Between 2004 and 2014 there was one divorce for every five Iraqi marriages. This is low by Western standards, but many Iraqis call it a crisis. Cases have been growing steadily since the compilation of proper statistics began in the year after the country’s invasion by American-led forces and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. The number of divorces exceeded 4,000 in both June and July this year—almost double the monthly average in 2004, according to the government. “The judiciary is working hard in order to prevent the occurrence of divorce cases because of its negative effects on society,” said Saad al-Ibrahimi, a judge.

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Turkey demands role in Mosul battle, but coalition unconvinced

Semih Idiz writes for Al-Monitor:

With US-led operations against the Islamic State’s strongholds of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq looming, Ankara and Washington are engaged in intense talks to determine Turkey’s involvement in them.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has indicated that Turkey wants in on both operations, declaring that US President Barack Obama called for Turkish cooperation in Raqqa during their recent meeting at the G-20 summit in Hangzhou, China. Turkish and American suspicions about each other’s ultimate motives, however, continue to make cooperation difficult.

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A healthy start for babies born in displacement camps in Iraq

Chris Niles writes for UNICEF:

On a late summer morning, Debaga camp is thronged with people. The camp was built to house around 5,000 individuals, but the population has grown to more than 36,000 in less than six months as displacement increases from villages and towns near the city of Mosul.

Distinct among the colourful crowd in the camp are three young women wearing pristine white coats and clutching clipboards.

Maisaa, Suha and Muntaha, who live in the camp, are health volunteers supported by UNICEF and the Department of Health. They stop outside the temporary shelter of a displaced family from Mosul and remove their shoes before stepping into the living room. The space is cool and mattresses line the walls. In the centre of the room, a tightly swaddled newborn baby, Ruqayya, sleeps in a wooden crib. Maisa speaks with Ruqayya’s mother about her baby’s health and gives her a pamphlet explaining the benefits of breastfeeding. Then she unwraps the baby’s swaddling clothes and takes her temperature.

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What’s next for Baghdad-Tehran ties as last MEK members leave Iraq?

Mustafa Saadoun writes for Al-Monitor:

On Sept. 10, commenting on the news that the last batch of Iranian dissidents affiliated with the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) had left Iraq and were heading to Albania in a deal that the United States mediated and the United Nations supervised, the Iraqi government declared it had "closed the book on the Baathist regime."

The last group of Iranians was composed of 280 dissidents. They had lived in Camp Liberty refugee camp in Baghdad since 2012, after the Iraqi government transferred them from Camp Ashraf in Diyala province, along the Iraq-Iran border, in which they had lived for almost three decades.

On Sept. 12, US Secretary of State John Kerry expressed his happiness about the MEK members' departure from Iraq and escaping the danger that was threatening their lives there, saying, "Their departure concludes a significant American diplomatic initiative that has assured the safety of more than 3,000 MEK members whose lives have been under threat."

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