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

Anzac Day 2016: Australian and New Zealand troops mark Anzac Day in Iraq

Paul Toohey writes for The Sydney Morning Herald:

They fly up the Persian Gulf, past uncertain friends and semi-hostile nations seen out either window of the RAAF Hercules C130, through Iraq's barren seas of sand to a base just north of Baghdad, where the history of ANZAC rings loud.

Some 300 Australians and 100 New Zealanders have come together for their biggest shared mission since Gallipoli, 101 years ago, joined by a will to do their part ridding the world of the Islamic State.

They will share April 25 on the ground in Iraq as they work to train Iraqis to better skill themselves in fighting the Islamic State.

Many of the Australian troops have direct connections back to ANZAC Cove and the Western Front.

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Life after ISIS: war victims require more support

Arina Moradi writes for Rudaw:

Tens of thousands of victims of the Islamic State, many women and children, have been left abandoned after their suffering. Society’s attitude towards the victims needs to change, activists and experts warned at the Women: A Gate to Freedom conference in the Kurdistan Region on Sunday.

“The society doesn’t accept the victim as a normal person. This is especially true for the women who have been raped by Daesh gunmen,” psychologist Yusuf Othman told Rudaw English.

He further explained how individuals judge victims while imagining their own scenario of what might have happened to people under ISIS rule, including rape, torture, and sexual enslaving of female victims.

Othman said that women who escaped from ISIS continue to be victimized.

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Iraq: Protecting Civilians Key to Mosul Battle

Human Rights Watch writes:

Iraqi government forces gearing up to drive Islamic State fighters from Mosul should prioritize protection of civilians. Hundreds of thousands of civilians remain in Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, which the extremist group Islamic State, also known as ISIS, took control of in June 2014.

ISIS and pro-government forces both have records of harming civilians during and after military operations. The United States, Iran, Germany, and other states providing military support to Iraq should condition their support on scrupulous respect for the laws of war, which prohibit attacks that disproportionately harm civilians or fail to distinguish civilians and civilian objects from military objectives.

“Protecting civilians from needless harm needs to be paramount in any battle for control of Mosul,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director. “It’s essential for the Iraq government to exercise effective command and control over all its forces, and for allies like the US and Iran to make sure they do so.”

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Mosul victory will heighten displaced persons crisis

Hassan Hassan writes for The National:

Iraqi authorities have finally reached a breakthrough in efforts to resolve the year-long tribal-cum-sectarian strife in a relatively small town between Tikrit and Baghdad. As the build-up for the battle to retake Mosul continues, the episode is a reminder of the many issues often overlooked in public discussions of the fight against ISIL.

The governor of Salahaddin, Raed Al Jubouri, said last week that displaced people from the city of Yathrib would be returning to their homes after an agreement was struck with neighbouring tribes. The deal, brokered by Sheikh Abdullatif Al Hmaym, head of the Sunni religious endowment, would allow the return of about 70,000 people.

A mix of sectarian and tribal tensions in the area had prevented the residents from returning to their homes. Neighbouring tribes accused residents of aiding ISIL when it conquered Salahaddin in summer 2014, and demanded punitive measures be taken against them, mostly based on tribal codes. Tribes were asked to pay $10 million (Dh37m) in compensation for those killed by ISIL.

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UK ‘anti-IS fighters’ freed in Iraq

BBC News reports:

Two Britons and an Irishman have been freed in Iraq after being held on their way home from fighting against so-called Islamic State (IS), the Foreign Office has said.

Jac Holmes from Bournemouth, Joe Ackerman from Halifax and Irish citizen Joshua Molloy had been detained in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq.

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Official: tougher Iraqi regulations to impact Kurdish wheat farmers

Rudaw reports:

The Kurdish ministry of agriculture says wheat farmers in the Kurdistan Region will likely face hard-hitting regulations in Baghdad this year when selling their crops.

Anwar Omar, a general manager at the ministry, told Rudaw that Iraqi authorities had introduced new rules regarding the purchase of the harvested wheat in the Kurdistan Region, which would likely reduce the overall sale of Kurdish wheat.

“The main problem is that if Iraq decides not to purchase our farmers’ wheat, large portions of it will be wasted, as we have no available silos to store it,” Omar said.

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Iraq signs strategic agreement with GE to boost power grid

Reuters reports:

Iraq’s Oil Ministry said on Sunday it had signed a long-term “strategic framework agreement” with General Electric which comprised several projects to boost national power resources.

The ministry said in a statement one of the projects would generate more than 400 megawatts (MW) for oil installations by summer. Other initiatives aim to maintain existing infrastructure and reduce gas flaring from oil fields to boost electricity production for use in the industrial and energy sectors.

The ministry did not specify the agreement’s value or timeframe but said it was the result of two years of negotiations.

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Iraqi Kurdistan: Christian Demonstration Blocked

Human Rights Watch writes:

Kurdish security forces on April 13, 2016, blocked roads to prevent Christian Iraqi families from reaching the regional capital, Erbil, to hold a protest. The Christians had planned to demonstrate against what they say is encroachment on their land by Kurds.

Eight Christian Iraqis told Human Rights Watch that in the Nahle Valley and other areas of northern Iraq with significant populations of Assyrians and other Christians, some Kurdish neighbors had encroached on Christian-owned land. They said that although they have property deeds, neither court orders nor recourse to officials succeeded in removing structures that Kurdish neighbors had built on their land.

“A peaceful public protest is an activity that the authorities should protect, not prevent, especially not by prohibiting travel based on their religion,” said Joe Stork, deputy director for the Middle East.

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U.S. military doubles the number of civilians it admits killing in anti-ISIS fight

Dan Lamothe writes for The Washington Post:

The U.S. military on Friday acknowledged killing 20 civilians and wounding 11 more in recent airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, more than doubling the number of civilian fatalities it has admitted causing in the military campaign against the Islamic State.

The nine errant airstrikes occurred between Sept. 10 and Feb. 2, U.S. Central Command said in a statement. Six of the strikes occurred in Iraq, and three occurred in Syria, U.S. military officials said.

“We deeply regret the unintentional loss of life and injuries resulting from those strikes and express our deepest sympathies to the victims’ families and those affected,” the military’s statement said.

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U.S. military chief pays quiet visit to Iraq post where Marine died

Missy Ryan writes for The Washington Post:

Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, paid a visit on Friday to a tiny artillery outpost in Iraq, presenting Purple Hearts to four service members wounded in a recent rocket attack that also killed an American Marine.

During a stop in Iraqi Kurdistan at the end of a three-day visit to Iraq, Dunford slipped away by helicopter to Fire Base Bell, a tiny post adjacent to a larger Iraqi base southeast of Mosul. Accompanied by only a handful of aides, Dunford spent about 90 minutes with the approximately 200 Marines at the isolated facility, close to the front lines with the Islamic State.

Speaking to reporters later in the day, Dunford said he distributed the awards at the very gun position where Staff Sgt. Louis Cardin, a member of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, was killed last month in a militant rocket attack.

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