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

Civilian casualties from Mosul are overwhelming capacity, UN warns

Stephen Kalin writes for Reuters:

Mounting civilian casualties from fighting in eastern Mosul between Iraqi forces and Islamic State are overwhelming the capacity of the government and international aid groups, the United Nations said on Saturday.

Nearly 200 wounded civilians and military personnel were transferred to hospital last week, the highest level since the campaign to push the jihadists out of their last major stronghold in Iraq began on Oct. 17, said Lise Grande, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Iraq.

The proportion of civilians among the wounded also appears to be on the rise, reaching 20 percent in the first month of the offensive, according to a Department of Health official, though part of the increase is likely due to improved access to areas newly retaken from Islamic State.

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Three Iraq forces killed trying to defuse truck bomb

AFP reports:

Three members of the Iraqi security forces were killed Saturday when an Islamic State group truck bomb they were trying to defuse exploded west of Baghdad, police officials said.

A large truck packed with explosives was intercepted by security forces in the Tamim neighbourhood of Ramadi, the main city in Iraq's vast western province of Anbar.

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ISIS claims bomb attack on wedding in Iraq, 20 dead

Mohammed Tawfeeq reports for CNN:

A suicide car bomb targeted a wedding party in a town south of Falluja, Iraq, killing 20 people and wounding 40 others, according to the head of the town council, Shaker Mahmoud.

ISIS, in a Twitter post, claimed responsibility for the bombing, saying Sunni militias in the town were the intended target.

The bomb-laden car rammed into an open yard Thursday evening where wedding guests had gathered in the town of Amiriyat al-Falluja, about 15 kilometers (9 miles) southeast of Falluja, the official said.

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The Fight For Mosul, Underway For A Month, Is Only Just Beginning

Alice Fordham writes for NPR:

The Iraqi soldiers posing for photos next to a pile of captured ISIS weaponry — mortar shells, tanks, even a tunnel-boring machine — are battle-hardened. They have been fighting ISIS all over the country since 2014, when about a third of Iraq fell to the extremists.

Speaking at a little base in northern Iraq, they say the fight for ISIS' largest stronghold, Mosul, is different.

"In Anbar, there was just us and them," said Cpl. Qusay al-Jubouri, referring to the province west of Baghdad where the ISIS-held cities were deserted by civilians during battles earlier this year and last year. "We knew everyone inside the city was an enemy — in any house, we could attack them. But here, the problem is all the civilians stay in their houses."

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Iraqi forces struggle to tell friend from foe in Mosul street battle

Stephen Kalin reports for Reuters:

A vehicle shielded with metal plates and driven by a suicide attacker turned onto a main road filled with soldiers in eastern Mosul and burst into a ball of fire, causing several casualties.

As it careered down the road it was riddled with gunfire as Iraqi forces responded to the latest Islamic State counterattack against their push to reclaim the northern city.

This and what followed on Thursday were indicative of the challenges Iraq's U.S.-backed military faces in fighting enemies who are willing to kill themselves to defend their last major stronghold in the country while surrounded by well over a million civilians.

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To Mosul and back: Sunni Arabs seek place in a shifting Iraq

John Davison writes for Reuters:

When Kurdish forces began rounding up his relatives and friends, 23-year-old Iraqi Omar Abdallah fled with his pregnant wife and four brothers to Mosul. At the time, life under Islamic State seemed preferable for the Sunni Arab to indefinite detention.

That was shortly after the ultra-hardline Sunni group captured large areas of northern Iraq in the summer in 2014, and despite its reputation for brutality, Abdallah says it remained a relatively unknown quantity to his family.

Now, Abdallah, Maha and their two infant children have fled again. They huddle in the desert a short distance northeast of Mosul, Iraq's second city, where government forces are fighting to drive out Islamic State in an offensive involving Kurdish fighters and Shi'ite militias.

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Talk radio station broadcasts emotional voices of Iraqis trapped by ISIS in Mosul

William Booth and Aaso Ameen Shwan write for The Washington Post:

The listeners who call in to Radio Alghad are typical of talk-radio audiences around the world. It’s complain, complain. Except the callers to “Radio Tomorrow” are in the Islamic State-controlled city of Mosul, and they don’t want to yak about traffic or sports.

They want to unload on suicide bombers and errant airstrikes, on the lack of food and medicine. They have questions about when to wave white flags and what to do with bodies in the rubble.

On calls made from the front lines in Mosul, Radio Alghad listeners can hear artillery rounds falling as the government battles to retake the city. They can hear windows rattling, bursts of gunfire, children crying in a backroom.

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IS Attacks in Mosul as Poor Visibility Slows Iraqi Advance

AP reports:

Cloudy skies neutralized air power in Mosul on Thursday, Iraqi forces said, hampering their advance in the northern city, although they still faced deadly attacks by Islamic State militants that killed seven civilians and two soldiers.

The civilians were killed and 35 others were wounded when militants fired mortar rounds on government-controlled areas of eastern Mosul, said army medic Bashir Jabar, who is in charge of a field clinic run by the special forces.

A soldier was killed and three were wounded when a car packed with explosives sped out from its hiding spot in a school complex in the eastern Tahrir neighborhood, ramming Iraqi troops' position and exploding into a ball of fire, according to two officers who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

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In battered town seized from IS, Iraq’s Yazidis dream of return

John Davison writes for Reuters:

For the first time since Islamic State militants swept into Bashiqa two years ago forcing him to flee, 61-year-old Barakat has finally found work - on Sunday he will be coming back to help clear debris from the destruction wrought upon his home town.

He and others who have been living in exile gathered in the town on Wednesday, just over a week after Kurdish peshmerga forces drove the jihadists out.

Yazidi, Christian and Muslim former neighbors and old friends kissed and greeted each other. But it will be a long time before they can move back for good.

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Iraqi forces recapture key air base near Mosul

Mohammed Tawfeeq and Ingrid Formanek report for CNN:

Iraqi paramilitary forces have recaptured a strategic airbase outside the northern city of Tal Afar, a spokesman for the Popular Mobilization Forces said.

Ahmed al Assadi acknowledged that militia forces have yet to extinguish some pockets of ISIS resistance inside the airbase, however, saying late Wednesday that mopping-up operations will continue for the next few hours.

Iraq's Joint Operations Command put out a similar statement.

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