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

Kurds launch offensive against Islamic State in north Iraq

Reuters reports:

Kurdish forces attacked Islamic State in northern Iraq on Wednesday in the latest of several offensives aimed at driving the militants away from the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. The assault began in the early morning to capture the al-Gurra heights to the west of Kirkuk in the direction of the Islamic State bastion of Hawijah, Kurdish military sources said.

The Kurds took full control of Kirkuk last summer when Iraqi soldiers abandoned their bases in and around the city as Islamic State militants overran around a third of the country.

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Report: ISIS has crucified thousands of Christians in Iraq, Syria

Edwin Mora reports for Breitbart News:

Western countries are turning a blind eye to the genocide that the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) is committing against Christians in Iraq and Syria, reports the U.K.’s Daily Expressciting a charity group. ISIS has already executed thousands of Christians and forced thousands more to flee ancient Christian communities in northeastern Syria and western Iraq, notes the article, adding that the jihadists demand they either covert to Islam, pay an extortionate rate/tax, or face execution, while other Christians are crucified.

“Despite concerns being raised by religious leaders including the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the plight of Christian refugees is largely being ignored by the western world,” reports Daily Express.

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U.S. fails to stop flow of foreign fighters to Islamic State: study

Patricia Zengerle reports for Reuters:

Nearly 30,000 foreigners, including more than 250 Americans, have joined Islamic State and other militant groups to fight in Syria and Iraq, double the number a year ago, a congressional study released on Tuesday showed. The United States is doing too little to stop the flow of fighters, according to the six-month study by Republicans and Democrats on the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee.

The report called urgently for a nationwide strategy for combating the threat from such fighters, with better information sharing within the United states and internationally. (here)

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Red Cross says conflict in Syria and Iraq causing ‘alarming’ $82m hole in finances

Clár Ní Chonghaile reports for the Guardian:

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) urgently needs funds to cover an unprecedented budget shortfall caused by the conflict in Syria and Iraq, a senior official said, warning that unless needs are met in the region, more refugees will make the hazardous journey to Europe. Robert Mardini, the ICRC’s regional director for the Middle East, said the funding gap for operations in Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon reached “the alarming figure” of 80m Swiss francs ($82m) for 2015 in late September.

“Humanitarian response is a sticking plaster, but this sticking plaster is indispensable in Syria, Iraq and the neighbouring countries today. Normally at this time of the year our activities in major war zones are fully funded. This year they are not,” Mardini said. However, he remained hopeful that donors would step up and that the gap could be filled by the end of the year. He said there had been “positive signals” from the UK and other European governments.

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Turkey: More than 30 Kurdish rebels killed in Iraq raid

Suzan Fraser reports for the Associated Press:

Clashes between Turkish security forces and autonomy-seeking Kurdish rebels have claimed nearly 60 lives in the southeast and across the border in northern Iraq, officials said Tuesday. More than 30 Kurdish rebels were killed overnight in a cross-border military operation in northern Iraq, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during a meeting with dozens of district administrators.

Kurdish militants killed two police officers Monday night in the southern city of Adana. Gov. Mustafa Buyuk said assailants riding a motorcycle fired on a police vehicle outside a hospital in Adana before fleeing.

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Iraq and Nigeria plead for more counter-terror help at United Nations

NBC news reports:

The leaders of Iraq and Nigeria on Tuesday asked for more international support of their efforts to stem the spread of Islamic extremism that is feeding ISIS and its African affiliate, Boko Haram.

Their pleas came during a United Nations summit led by President Obama in which representatives of dozens of countries shared ideas on how to counter the recruitment of would-be terrorists around the world, stanch the flow of those radicalized young people into Syria and Iraq, and block supporters from sending money to the extremist groups.

Top billing went to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, both of whom are on the battle's front lines.

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Russian military experts arrive in Iraq

Rudaw reports :

Russia’s newly formed alliance with Iraq, Iran and Syria in the fight against the Islamic State, or ISIS, took a step forward Monday with the arrival of military experts. Iranian and Russian teams had already arrived in Iraq to start preparing for the four-party alliance, said Hakem al-Zameli, the head of Iraq’s National Security and Defense Committee.

“Iraq needs to exchange experience and information intelligence with countries especially after it has become clear that the United State is not serious and has failed along with the International coalition to combat the Islamic State organization,” Zameli said in a press conference Monday.

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Coalition fighting Islamic State launch 17 airstrikes in Syria, Iraq

Reuters reports:

The United States and its allies on Monday launched 12 air strikes in Iraq and five in Syriaagainst Islamic State targets, according to a statement released by the coalition overseeing the operations.  The dozen strikes in Iraq struck six units of Islamic State fighters and hit several buildings, fighting positions, weapons caches and other targets used by the militant group near eight cities, including Al Huwayja, Ramadi and Bayji, the statement released on Tuesday said.

In Syria, five strikes hit near three cities, it said. Two struck a crude oil collection point near Abu Kamal, while the three other strikes near Dayr Az Zawr and Mar'a hit two units of fighters, among other targets.

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Pentagon scrambling to know what U.S. secrets Iraq tells Russia

Patrick Tucker reports for Defense One:

Pentagon officials do not know what secrets the Iraqi government may be telling Moscow, after Iraqi leaders unexpectedly entered into an intelligence-sharing agreement with Russia this weekend. The Defense Department’s second-in-command told the Senate on Tuesday the agreement came as a surprise to military intelligence and Pentagon teams are scrambling to make sure classified intelligence from the U.S. does not make its way into the hands of Russian, Syrian or Iranian authorities.

Over the weekend, the Iraqi military’s Joint Operations Command announcedthat it would enter into an intelligence sharing agreement“about ISIS terrorism” with Syria, Russia and Iran. Exactly what sort of information Iraq agreed to share with Russia, or has shared already, was a matter of some confusion during Tuesday’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work acknowledged that the Defense Department doesn’t have a firm handle on the sort of communications going on between the Iraqi government and Moscow.

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Turkish PM: 16 Turkish workers kidnapped in Iraq for nearly a month are released

AP reports:

Turkey's state-run news agency says Turkish workers who were kidnapped in Baghdad have been released. The Anadolu Agency says Wednesday the workers were freed in the city of Basra and were traveling to Baghdad. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said 16 workers were freed.

The men, employed by Turkish construction company Nurol Insaat, were snatched up from a construction site in Baghdad's Shiite-dominated Sadr City on Sept. 2. An Iraqi national was kidnapped along with the Turks.

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