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

Iraqis aid rebels in Syria

Tim Arango reports for the New York Times:

Not so long ago, Syrians worked to send weapons and fighters into Iraq to help Sunnis fighting a sectarian conflict; suddenly, it is the other way around.

A belated celebration of the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday on the outskirts of this western Iraqi city on Saturday quickly took on the trappings of a rally for Syria’s rebels. Young boys waved the old green, black and white flag Syria adopted in the 1930s after declaring independence from the French. Others collected money to send aid and weapons to the fighters opposing President Bashar al-Assad’s government across the border.

“I wish I could go there with my gun and fight,” said Sheik Hamid al-Hais, a tribal leader interviewed at his compound in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province.

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Bombs in Baghdad, Mosul kill 3

Sinan Salaheddin reports for the Associated Press:

Two separate attacks against Iraqi security forces killed three people and wounded 18 others on Tuesday, officials said.

A bomb in a parked car exploded around noon near an Iraqi army checkpoint in the northern city of Mosul, killing a soldier and a bystander, a police officer said. Twelve other passers-by were wounded in the attack.

Sunni-dominated Mosul, located 225 miles (360 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, was a major haven for al-Qaida in Iraq and other insurgent groups several years ago even as militant activity declined elsewhere.

Two hours earlier, a police patrol hit a roadside bomb in Baghdad's eastern neighborhood of Mashtal, killing a bystander and wounding six others, another police officer said.

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Total CEO signals interest in Kurdistan

Caroline Jacobs and Muriel Boselli report for Reuters:

French oil major Total SA has become the latest big oil company to shift the focus of its Iraq ambitions toward the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, and away from the much larger but economically challenging contracts offered by Baghdad.

Total's chief executive said on Friday he was considering possible investments in Kurdistan, something which previously prompted the central Iraq government to bar companies from investing in the south of the country, and added he did not plan to chase contracts in Baghdad's next licensing round.

"From what we are hearing the conditions of the fourth bidding round in Iraq do not appear very attractive," Christophe de Margerie told a press conference. "The interest in Kurdistan is that there are plenty of gas and oil reserves there and contractual conditions are better."

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Anbar civilian killed by roadside bomb

Anwar Msarbat reports for AKnews:

One civilian was killed and three more were injured today after a roadside explosive struck the car carrying them, a police officer said.

Speaking to AKnews, 1st Lt. Ali Haidar said that an improvised explosive device hit the private car in Qura Zuba district, southeast of Falluja, today afternoon.

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Kurdistan to form tourism police

Fryad Mohammed reports for AKnews:

For better protecting the tourist resorts and attraction in the Iraqi Kurdistan region, the government is preparing to from the first unit of tourism police.

Spokesperson for General Tourism Board of Kurdistan Nader Rosti told AKnews that the Interior Ministry has officially agreed to the demand to form the unit and now the demand is subject to the final approval of the Council of Ministers.

Over 1,500 policemen will be hired this year to protect the sites. The force will be under the command of the Tourism Board and Interior Ministry.

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Salahuddin official survives rocket attack

Othman Shalsh reports for AKnews:

A member of the Salahaddin Provincial Council, Hussein al-Shatab, survived an attack on his house in Mo'tasam district, south of Tikrit.

Shatab told AKnews that he and his family were not home when the two C5K rockets fell on his home yesterday evening.

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Secret US, UK prison abuses in 2003

Ian Cobain reports for the Guardian:

On the evening of 11 April 2003, a pair of RAF CH47 Chinook helicopters swept over Iraq's western desert towards a remote rendezvous point beside Route 10, the highway that begins life on the outskirts of Baghdad before running for mile after mile towards the border with Jordan.

As they approached their destination, the crews assumed they were on an operation that would be uneventful. Two days earlier Saddam Hussein's statue had been toppled after American tanks rolled into the Iraqi capital; three weeks later George Bush would stand in front of a banner saying "mission accomplished".

The helicopter crews had been told that a number of detainees were under armed guard at the side of the highway. They were to pick them up after dark and take them to a prison camp. What followed was far from routine: before the night was out, one man had died on board one of the helicopters, allegedly beaten to death by RAF personnel.

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Korea’s SK let into 4th bid round after KRG exit

Daniel Fineren reports for Reuters:

Iraq has allowed SK Innovation to bid in its fourth energy exploration block auction after the private South Korean company sold its stake in a Kurdish oilfield to Korea's already barred state oil company KNOC, Baghdad said on Thursday.

Companies that have signed deals with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which is locked in a feud with the central government, have been blocked by Baghdad from taking part in an auction now planned for late May.

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Mayor resigns in disputed Garmiyan area

Bryar Mohammed reports for AKnews:

The mayor of Kalar, the center of the disputed Garmiyan area, has resigned, without disclosing a reason.

Othman Mohyaddin confirmed his resignation to AKnews today, and added "I will reveal the reason for this later".

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India, Iraq to start direct flights

Press Trust of India reports:

India and Iraq would resume direct flights which were stopped during the first Gulf War two decades ago, official sources said on Thursday.

The aviation authorities of the two countries, which were in talks for over the past few months, have decided to launch these flights from the coming Sunday, the sources said.

Iraq government has designated its national carrier Iraqi Airways, which would every week operate two flights each to Delhi and Mumbai from Baghdad. India is yet to take a final decision on designating any carrier that would fly to Iraq, they said.

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