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

Islamic State mufti killed in Mosul air strike, Iraqi forces say

BBC News reports:

One of the most senior religious leaders in the Islamic State (IS) group has been killed in west Mosul, according to Iraqi forces.

Abdullah al-Badrani, also known as Abu Ayoub al-Atar, reportedly died in an air strike by the US-led coalition on Thursday.

Al-Badrani issued many of the group's dictates, leading to the torture, death and sexual abuse of civilians.

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Iraqi Christians return to ransacked town with fear and hope

Ulf Laessing writes for Reuters:

With Islamic State expelled, Iraqi Christians are trickling back to the ransacked town of Qaraqosh, beset by anxiety for their security and yet hopeful they can live in friendship with Muslims of all persuasions.

The town, about 20 km (12 miles) from the battlefront with Islamic State in the northern city of Mosul, shows why Christians have mixed feelings about the future of their ancient community.

In the desecrated churches of Qaraqosh, Christians are busy removing graffiti daubed by the Sunni Muslim militants during two and a half years of control - only for new slogans to have appeared, scrawled by Shi'ite members of the Iraqi forces fighting street to street with the jihadists in Mosul.

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Why American Airstrikes Go Wrong

Eric Schmitt and Anjali Singhvi write for The New York Times:

The Pentagon’s laser- or satellite-guided bombs and missiles almost always hit their intended targets. But because of human error – sometimes compounded by technical glitches – the military has a history of mistakenly killing civilians or allies. Here are five causes.

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IS ouster clears way for football comeback in Iraq’s Mosul

Ali Choukeir writes for AFP:

It was a grim time for football: jihadists observed matches, jerseys from foreign teams were banned and even whistling was prohibited when the Islamic State group held Iraq's Mosul.

Play was halted for prayers, which occur five times a day, and shorts that exposed players' knees were also banned by IS.

Now, eastern Mosul has been recaptured from the jihadists and efforts are underway to rehabilitate football pitches, even as the battle for the city's west continues on the other side of the Tigris River.

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Clinic Outside Mosul Treats Those With Gravest Injuries

AP reports:

A boy and a woman are delivered to the gates of the clinic by an Iraqi ambulance, bandaged and in pain. They arrive without names, ages and with only the sketchiest details of what had happened to them.

Apparently shot by accident outside their house in western Mosul, where fighting continues between Iraqi forces and Islamic State group militants, U.S. medics working in a state-of-the-art field clinic here could only assume they were mother and son.

Situated on the outskirts of Mosul, the facility was set up last December by Samaritan's Purse, a Christian aid organization based in Boone, North Carolina. Its volunteer doctors receive those with the gravest injuries from the field clinics inside or at the very edge of Mosul, where casualties are initially treated.

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U.S. general sees progress by Iraqi forces in Mosul despite complicated battle

Ulf Laessing writes for Reuters:

Iraqi forces are making progress in their offensive to expel Islamic State from Mosul but face a "very complicated" urban battle as the militants hide in mosques, homes and hospitals, a U.S. general told Reuters on Wednesday.

Government forces have retaken much of Iraq's second-largest city since January but have been trying since then to dislodge the Sunni Muslim militants from the densely populated Old City in western Mosul, their last Iraqi stronghold.

"Iraqi security forces continue to progress as they liberate the western side of Mosul," U.S. Army Major General Joseph Martin, head of ground forces for the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State, said by telephone.

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Splits Within Iraq’s Three Communities Reshape Its Politics

Yaroslav Trofimov writes for The Wall Street Journal:

Conventional wisdom holds that Iraq is a nation starkly divided among its three main components: Shiite Arabs, Sunni Arabs and Kurds.

Yet, another dynamic is gaining importance. Each of these three groups - as well as the smaller communities such as the Yazidis and Christians - is also beset by deepening rivalries. These political cleavages could further destabilize the country.

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Packed Iraq morgue reveals toll of Mosul conflict

Isabel Coles writes for Reuters:

Doctor Mansour Maarouf dons a surgical mask as he approaches the morgue refrigerator and pauses before pulling open the door to an icy blast. "In the name of God," he says out of respect for the dead.

Nearly all of them are victims of the ongoing battle to dislodge Islamic State militants from Mosul, around 60 km further north. On the deadliest day so far, 21 bodies arrived at the hospital in the town of Qayyara.

The morgue gives a sense of the heavy toll the conflict is taking on civilians, but also highlights the practical challenges of dealing with the dead when infrastructure is ruined and administration has collapsed.

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Bodies of 1,500 Yazidis found in northern Iraq since 2015, says official

Muhammad Jambaz and Sarah Sirgany report for CNN:

The bodies of between 1,300 and 1,500 members of the Yazidi minority have been discovered near the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar since it was retaken from ISIS in 2015, a Kurdish official told CNN Tuesday.

It's the first time an official has estimated the total number of Yazidis found in grave sites littered around Sinjar since Iraqi forces pushed the terror group out more than two years ago.

Thirty-five mass graves along with 100 individual graves have been unearthed, according to Hussein Hassoun, the spokesman of the Higher Committee to Introduce Yazidi Kurds.

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Survivors Describe Aftermath Of U.S. Airstrike On Mosul

Jane Arraf reports for NPR:

In a hospital in Irbil, Iraq, 4-year-old Hawra' is briefly distracted by a new pink hat and a big stuffed toy. But soon she goes back to calling for her mother — her cries filling the hospital room.

"Your mother is in Mosul getting treatment," her grandmother, Aliya Ali, assures her in a singsong voice. "We'll go there," she tells the little girl, before turning to admit that the only thing she can do is lie.

Hawra's mother survived for three days half-buried in the rubble of a house after a U.S. airstrike on March 17 in their neighborhood in Mosul Jadidah. She died there.

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