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

Islamic State routs Iraqi armored column in Anbar

Bill Roggio writes for the Long War Journal:

Fighters from the newly established Islamic State ambushed and destroyed an Iraqi armored column in the western province of Anbar. Islamic State fighters also captured several American-made armored personnel carriers. The ambush highlights the deteriorating state of the Iraqi security forces.

The Islamic State's Anbar Wilayat (division or province) released a series of photographs on its Twitter account on July 10 that document the ambush of an Iraqi armored column and the aftermath of the attack.



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How Saudi Arabia helped ISIS take over the north of the country

Patrick Cockburn writes for the Independent:

How far is Saudi Arabia complicit in the Isis takeover of much of northern Iraq, and is it stoking an escalating Sunni-Shia conflict across the Islamic world? Some time before 9/11, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, once the powerful Saudi ambassador in Washington and head of Saudi intelligence until a few months ago, had a revealing and ominous conversation with the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove. Prince Bandar told him: "The time is not far off in the Middle East, Richard, when it will be literally 'God help the Shia'. More than a billion Sunnis have simply had enough of them."

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Iraq’s top diplomat replaced, sources say

Hamdi Alkhshali and Michael Martinez report for CNN:

In a possible portent of growing factional conflict, a leading Kurdish minister was removed from Iraq's government, and the Kurdish semi-autonomous government took over two oilfields in the north, officials said Friday.

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, the face of Iraqi diplomacy for a more than a decade, was removed Friday by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, two senior Iraqi government officials said.

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Iraq sends volunteer force to Ramadi

Edward Yeranian reports for VOA:

Iraqi government TV reported that the 4,000 volunteers were being airlifted to Ramadi from the country's mostly Shi'ite regions of Karbala, Baghdad, Najaf and Basrah. It said Anbar province governor Ahmed Khalaf al-Dulaimi made the announcement in a statement Saturday.

Anbar province military commander General Rashid Flayeh indicated that around 2,500 of the volunteers had been flown into Ramadi Friday by helicopter. The rest were expected to be flown in Saturday. Government forces currently control Ramadi, although Sunni insurgents hold the Anbar town of Faluja, 25 kilometers from Baghdad.

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Iraqi security accused of executing prisoners

Al Jazeera reports:

A rights group has said Iraqi security forces and Shia militia members have been involved in executing at least 255 prisoners in six cities and villages. The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Saturday that Sunni prisoners were killed as Shia fighters and Iraqi soldiers fled advancing Islamic State rebels.

At least eight of those who were killed were boys under age 18, the group says.  According to HRW, five massacres of prisoners were documented between June 9 and 21 in Mosul, Tal Afar in northern Nineveh province, in Baquba and Jumarkhe in Diyala province, and in Rawa in Anbar province.

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U.S. and Iraqis try to fragment extremist groups

Eric Schmitt and Alissa J. Rubin write for the New York Times:

American and Iraqi officials are seeking ways to exploit emerging fissures between the militant group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and Iraqi extremist groups that allied with it to seize much of northern and western Iraq over the last month.

The groups, which follow the Sunni branch of Islam, made common cause with ISIS, whose members are also Sunni militants, to fight Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government. The Shiites are the majority in Iraq, and there is deep distrust between them and the Sunnis.

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The plight of Mosul’s museum: Iraqi antiquities at risk of ruin

WAMC Northeast Public Radio reports:

As Sunni insurgents have swept through Iraq seizing cities, they've also begun destroying ancient artifacts. Shrines, tombs and statues that the group ISIS believes are against Islam. Present day Iraq was once Mesopotamia, the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and considered the cradle of civilization. Now there's great concern that antiquities and archaeological sites will be wiped out. As Christopher Dickey writes in the Daily Beast, it's a virtual certainty that irreplaceable history will be annihilated or sold into the netherworld of corrupt and cynical collectors. Mr. Dickey joins me not from Paris. Thanks for being with us.

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In Iraq, death toll rises among Shiite recruits battling insurgency

Patrick J. McDonnell reports for the Los Angeles Times:

The unadorned wooden boxes arrive lashed to car roofs or secured in the beds of pickup trucks, a steady procession of mortal remains on a doleful final journey to this holy city.

Only days ago, they were enthusiastic Shiite Muslim recruits who answered the call of their clerics to fight a Sunni Arab insurgency. Now they are coming home lifeless and broken — the victims of bullets, bombs and shells.

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Iraq, Syria forced to turn to sea for drinking water

Amotz Asa-El writes for the Wall Street Journal:

The Euphrates and the Tigris, two of biblical Paradise’s four rivers, are under attack.  The civil wars in Iraq and Syria are now victimizing the rivers themselves. The consequences of the burgeoning water crisis will be an emblem of water’s economic future, regardless of its Middle Eastern travails.  With President Bashar Assad and the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) waging total war, Syria’s water infrastructure is fast cracking.

The Euphrates Dam, Syria’s largest, was taken over by ISIS, and the 85-kilometer-long Lake Assad to which it is attached is anarchically overpumped. The lake’s water level has plunged this year alone by six meters and is but one meter away from failing to supply 4 million people who rely on it for drinking water, according to a recent report by Chatham House.

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Iraq leader says Kurds aiding Sunni extremists

Maria Abi-Habib and Joe Parkinson write for the Wall Street Journal :

Iraq's leader accused the country's Kurds of letting radical Islamist militants use their regional capital of Erbil as an operations center, an allegation Kurdish officials dismissed, as evidence of another sectarian massacre emerged.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's allegation came after the semiautonomous Kurdish region in Iraq, which is pressing for independence, capitalized on a Sunni extremist assault by seizing territory for themselves, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. Then last week, Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani asked the region's parliament to hold a referendum on independence.

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