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

Iraqi forces clash with militants in northern city

Sinan Salaheddin and Sameer N. Yacoub report for AP:

Iraqi helicopter gunships struck suspected insurgent positions in Tikrit on Sunday as part of a government offensive to retake the northern city from Sunni militants led by the al-Qaida breakaway Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, residents and officials said.

The Iraqi military launched its push to wrest back Tikrit, the hometown of former dictator Saddam Hussein, on Saturday with a multi-pronged assault spearheaded by ground troops backed by tanks and helicopters. Security officials said the army is coordinating its campaign with the United States.

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Iraq takes delivery of Russian fighter jets

Al Jazeera reports:

The Iraqi government has received a delivery of Russian-made fighter planes it hopes will turn the tide against Sunni rebels who have seized large parts of the country.

Iraqi security officials confirmed five Sukhoi-25 jets, which were purchased second-hand from Russia, had arrived in Baghdad on Saturday.  Pictures released by the defence ministry showed the jets taxiing on a runway towards a hangar.

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A reignited war drives Iraqis out in huge numbers

Tim Arango reports for the New York Times:

As Sunni rebels advanced across Iraq in recent weeks, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were driven from their homes. For many, it was not the first time.

There have been very few prolonged periods of peace in Iraq over the last several decades, and for civilians seemingly perpetual flight. More than a million Iraqis have been displaced this year, half within the last couple of weeks, the United Nations says.

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Iraq violence not looming as large over oil markets

Ben Winkley reports for the Wall Street Journal :

Brent crude Thursday continued to fall away from the nine-month highs of earlier in the week, as the market reassessed the impact of violence in Iraq.  The global benchmark oil contract on the ICE Futures Europe fell by 0.1% to $113.67, and is now $2 below the levels reached a week ago.

Concerns about loss of supply from Iraq are exaggerated, said analysts at Commerzbank.  The world's sixth-largest producer has been beset by violence since militant groups began gaining territory in the north of the country earlier this month.

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Iraqi cleric pushes for emergency government

Al Jazeera reports:

Iraq's powerful Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has called for a national emergency government, a day after Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, rejected any attempts to challenge his rule.

Sadr, whose movement, the Mahdi army, has vowed to battle the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, on Wednesday said that the Iraqi government "must fulfill the legitimate demands of the moderate Sunnis and stop excluding them because they have been marginalised".

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Shiite violence traps Baghdad Sunnis, haunted by a grim past

Alissa J. Rubin and Rod Nordland report for the New York Times:

The bodies arrive in twos and threes most every day in the Baghdad morgue now, a grim barometer of the city’s sectarian tensions. Most have gunshot wounds to the head, some have signs of torture, and most of them are Sunnis.

When families come looking for relatives, they are directed to a room with five 48-inch television monitors playing what could best be described as a slide show from hell — one bullet-riddled corpse after another. Those who came Wednesday morning left both disappointed and relieved, upset about not knowing their loved ones’ fate, but glad not to have confirmation; not here, at least.

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Iraq clamps down on internet

The Wall Street Journal reports :

The Iraqi government is blocking news and social-media websites in some areas and shut down the Internet entirely in others in a bid to keep extremist Sunnis from building public support through online channels.

The moves follow those of some governments in the Middle East. Facebook and Twitter helped amplify the grievances that led to the Arab Spring, which toppled three regimes, and served as critical organizing tools.

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Maliki rules out Iraq unity government

Al Jazeera reports:

The Iraqi prime minister has rejected US calls for the formation of a national unity government to tackle a rising Sunni offensive, calling the idea a "coup" against the constitution.

Nouri al-Maliki's statement on Wednesday came a day after the US secretary of state, John Kerry, left Iraq after pushing for a agreement between Kurdish, Sunni and Shia leaders.

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New edition to UNESCO world heritage list: Erbil Citadel

Rudaw reports :

The Erbil Citadel has won the battle to get on the coveted UNESCO World Heritage List, thanks to active support by Algeria, Lebanon and Turkey.

The listing was decided during the current session of the World Heritage Committee in the Qatari capital, Doha.  The committee is meeting to consider the inclusion of 36 cultural and natural wonders on the UN list. By agreeing to add the Citadel to the list, it bypassed an almost completely negative -- though not binding – assessment by its preparatory commission, ICOMOS.

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US forces arrive in Baghdad to advise Iraqi troops

The BBC reports:

The first US troops deployed to assist the Iraqi army in combating a growing Sunni militant insurgency have arrived and begun work, the Pentagon has said.

Nearly half the 300 special operations soldiers promised by US President Barack Obama are in Baghdad or on the front lines of the fight.

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