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

A sniper in Iraq’s Golden Division remembers his fallen comrade

Vice News reports:

VICE News embedded with Iraq's Golden Division Special Forces unit as they fought their way into the villages surrounding the city of Hit, where they encountered ambushes, sniper fire, and tried to sort suspected Islamic State operatives and sympathizers from innocent Iraqi civilians.

In this extra scene, a member of a sniper team VICE News met when embedded in Ramadi last year, tells us how he's coping since losing his friend, who was considered the best sniper in the country.

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Abu Mehdi Muhandis meets with senior Iraqi Shiite cleric in Najaf

Amir Toumaj writes in the Long War Journal:

According to Iranian media, Abu Mehdi Muhandis briefed Grand Ayatollah Bashir Hussain Najafi and the head of his office in the holy city of Najaf yesterday on ongoing Fallujah operations. Muhandis is the commander of the Iranian-backed Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, a US designated global terrorist and a deputy to Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force Commander Qassem Soleimani. Najafi was born to a prominent clerical family in British India and is one of the five Grand Ayatollahs in Iraq.

The senior cleric praised the ongoing successes of Iraqi forces against the Islamic State and proclaimed, “all of Iraq must be cleansed from DAISH (pejorative for Islamic State) terrorists.” He also stressed the necessity of protecting public and private property during the Fallujah operation and said, “Members of the security forces and popular mobilization are the pride of the clergy.”

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From Maliki to Abadi: the challenge of being Iraq’s prime minister

Harith Hasan Al-Qarawee writes in the Middle East Brief:

This Brief reviews Abadi’s premiership so far and seeks to answer the following questions: How much has Abadi’s governance differed from—or resembled—Maliki’s? And has the transition from Maliki to Abadi led to any significant change in Iraq’s political dynamics?

The Brief argues that, despite improvements in his style of governing, Abadi could not make a significant alteration regarding major political issues, especially those pertaining to relations with the Kurdish and the Sunni groups, constitutional reforms and political and security arrangements in the war against ISIS. The necessary conclusion is that Iraq’s main problems are systemic and related to the way the whole political system is structured.

A Shia prime minister like Abadi needs to command a broad constituency that is loyal to and supportive of him in order to make the concessions and compromises that a new political compact would require. Abadi, although armed with good intentions and the desire to make a difference, lacks such a constituency and, as a result, has not been able to make those changes.

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Apache gunships enter combat as Iraqi forces encircle Mosul, Pentagon says

Thomas Gibbons-Neff reports for The Washington Post:

As Iraqi forces backed by U.S. support engage the Islamic State across multiple battlefronts in Iraq, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter announced Monday that American Apache helicopter gunships had been used in combat for the first time since President Obama authorized their use in April.

Speaking to reporters during a flight to a meeting of NATO ministers in Brussels, Carter declined to go into details about the operation but said the Monday strikes were in support of Iraqi forces battling the Islamic State outside Mosul.

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Iraq arrests 500 IS suspects fleeing with civilians: police

AFP reports:

Iraqi forces have detained more than 500 suspected Islamic State group members trying to sneak out of the city of Fallujah by blending in with fleeing civilians, police said Monday.

"We have arrested 546 suspected terrorists who had fled by taking advantage of the movements of displaced families over the past two weeks," said Hadi Rzayej, the police chief for Anbar province in which Fallujah is located.

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Iraq probes human rights violations in Fallujah offensive

The Associated Press reports:

Iraq said Monday it had launched an investigation into possible human rights abuses against civilians fleeing the Islamic State-held city of Fallujah as an aid group said more than 4,000 more people had left the city over the weekend.

Iraqi government spokesman Saad al-Hadithi said some fighters suspected of violating human rights during the three-week-old operation to retake the city have been arrested over the past few days and are under investigation.

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Iraq makes arrests over reports of Sunnis executed in Falluja

Isabel Coles and Stephen Kalin report for Reuters:

Iraq said on Monday it had made arrests as it investigates allegations that Shi'ite militiamen helping the army retake Falluja had executed dozens of Sunni Muslim men fleeing the city held by Islamic State.

Iraqi authorities "are following up on the violations and a number of arrests have been made," government spokesman Saad al-Hadithi said after a regional governor said 49 Sunni men had been executed after surrendering to a Shi'ite faction.

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Inside Islamic State’s female recruitment machine

Alexandra Bradford reports for News Deeply:

By all accounts 22-year-old Aqsa Mahmood was an ordinary adolescent. She dreamed of being a doctor and excelled during her years at the private school she attended in Scotland. Her weekends were spent with friends and she was devoted to her family. Mahmood’s parents describe her as “the best daughter you could have.” Yet in late 2013, while her friends were studying for their exams and planning their winter break, Mahmood was preparing to run away from Glasgow to Syria, where she would join the ranks of the so-called Islamic State group.

But Mahmood is not only a runaway to the group also known as ISIS – she is a recruiter. She would go on to become the female role model for Western women seeking to make their home among the members of the terror group.

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Iraqi cleric calls for big protest following Ramadan

Kurdistan24 reports:

On Sunday, Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr asked people to hold a big protest in Baghdad after the holy month of Ramadan against the federal government of Iraq.

Sadr’s office released a statement calling people to prepare for a protest involving a million demonstrators in Baghdad following the Islamic month of fasting.

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A personal quest to document IS massacre of Iraqi Yazidis

The Associated Press reports:

The walls and even the windows of Bahzad Farhan Murad's office are covered with lists. They name the thousands of people who were killed or are still missing after the Islamic State group launched an attack on unarmed Yazidi communities in northwestern Iraq nearly two years ago.

The 28-year-old Yazidi has been documenting crimes against his community ever since the August 2014 attack. He is collecting data on as many victims as he can, gathering information on the men who were executed in groups, the women who were captured and forced into sexual slavery, the children who were indoctrinated in extremist training camps. To date, he has conducted hundreds of interviews and produced detailed files on over 2,400 victims.

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