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

Iraq kicks off election campaign amidst public anger

Mina Aldroubi writes for The National:

Iraq's election campaign kicked off amid controversy following the replacement of posters of dead fighters with those of candidates.

Party aides and volunteers across the country on Saturday substituted the images of men killed in the battle against ISIS with those of nominees.

On Sunday morning angry residents took to social media to vent their frustrations.

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1,000 bodies, many believed to be ISIS fighters, buried in Mosul mass grave

AP reports:

Authorities in Mosul have buried more than 1,000 bodies in a mass grave in a desert valley outside the city, most of them believed to be Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group militants, according to a provincial official. More remains are being dug out of the rubble of the district where the fighters made their final stand last year.

Hundreds more bodies are still strewn across or buried in Maydan district nine months after it was flattened in the final battles to retake Mosul, creating one of the grimmest scenes from a brutal war that was compared to the worst urban combat of World War II.

During a recent visit by The Associated Press, pieces of desiccated bodies, often in shreds of fighters' uniforms, were visible scattered in the ruins, which are also laced with unexploded bombs and unused suicide belts. In one place, the crown of a skull stuck out of the dirt, brilliant white with a fringe of leathery scalp and hair. One man lay crushed under the wreck of a car, his legs sticking up in the air.

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16 dead in attack at Iraq funeral of anti-IS fighters: mayor

AFP reports:

At least 16 people died in a bomb attack Thursday during funerals in a northern village for Iraqi fighters killed by the Islamic State group, the mayor said.

It was the deadliest attack in Iraq since a January 16 double suicide bombing in Baghdad that cost 31 lives.

"Two bombs exploded as the funeral procession was entering the cemetery" in Asdira, near the town of Sharqat, the mayor, Salaheddin Shaalan, told AFP.

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Iraq struggles to expel Kurdish militia from the north

Mina Aldroubi writes for The National:

It won't be easy for Iraq to expel the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) from the country, the head of the Turkmen Association said on Thursday.

The comment follows weeks of heightened tensions between Turkey and PKK fighters based in Sinjar province and other areas of north Iraq.

Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi recently called on Kurdish insurgents in Iraq to disarm as Turkey raised the prospects of a military intervention in the country's north.

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Finding Homes Unlivable, Some Iraqis Return to Camps

Rikar Hussein writes for Voice of America:

Hundreds of displaced Iraqis who returned to their homes after the defeat of the Islamic State are now going back to Kurdish refugee camps, due to a lack of services and an impasse in reconstruction, Kurdish and Iraqi officials said.

Falah Mustafa Bakir, the Kurdistan region's foreign relations minister, has announced that about 4,000 displaced civilians mostly from Nineveh province, who went back to their homes after the Iraqi victory over IS last year, have returned to Kurdish refugee camps since January.

"What we are seeing this year is a reverse return to the Kurdistan region," Bakir said Tuesday during a joint press conference with Ramanathan Balakrishnan, the U.N. Population Fund representative in Irbil, the capital of Iraq's Kurdistan region.

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Iraq’s football fans enjoy first international club tie since ban

AFP reports:

The match might have ended 1-1, but for Iraqi football fans Tuesday's tie between Baghdad's Al Zawraa and Beirut's Al Ahed will be one for the record books.

It was the first international competitive club game to be played on Iraqi soil in more than 20 years after Fifa lifted a ban on the war-torn country.

"The world saw that Iraq was at the level and that it had the capacity to host a championship," fan Ali Essam said.

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Iraqi boat-makers struggle to keep their trade afloat

Wassim Bassem writes for Al Monitor:

When Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi paid a visit to the Iraqi marshlands in September 2017, photos showed him on a mashoof, the traditional narrow canoe that has been in use in the region for centuries. Yet the boat, a symbol of transportation in this UNESCO-protected area, may well be the part of the region’s heritage on the verge of extinction.

The owner of a mashoof boat, Razaq Jabbar, a traditionally dressed man with a sunburnt, wrinkled face, told the media March 25 that he was proud to take the Iraqi prime minister on his boat. Jabbar is one of the few dozen skilled artisans who continue to build these boats, and he might be the last in his family to continue the trade.

According to the head of the Chibayish Tourism Organization, Raad Habib al-Asadi, there are less than 50 mashoof manufacturers in southern Iraq who continue their craft. They are located mostly in the towns of Basra, Hillah and Kufa, where vast rivers and swamps are found.

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Traumatized, IS Children Mourn as World Celebrates Their Loss

Heather Murdock writes for Voice of America:

"The children feel lonely because their father is gone," says Hassiba, who is raising her seven children alone in a desert camp outside of Mosul. "Other children beat them, saying, 'Your father was a terrorist.'"

Her husband was an accused Islamic State fighter. He is either in jail or dead, but she doesn't know which. Abdul Kareem, her 12-year-old son, now provides the family's only income by transporting random items in his cart. On his best days, he makes about $2.

Abdul Kareem is among tens of thousands of Iraqi children whose fathers were accused militants, arrested or killed in Islamic State's losing battle. And while these children mourn, the rest of the world celebrates their loss.

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Al Sadr says Iraq-Turkey agreement against PKK is unlikely

Mina Aldroubi writes for The National:

Muqtada Al Sadr, the influential Iraqi Shiite cleric, disputed claims that Turkey and Baghdad are in agreement over launching a military operation against Kurdish insurgents in the country's north.

Last month Turkey raised the prospect of direct military intervention against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militia - an armed group that has been waging an insurgency against Ankara for decades.

“They [Turkey] said it was in coordination with the government of Iraq, but I doubt it,” the cleric and politician said on Monday evening.

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Iraq to take ‘all necessary measures’ to prevent Islamic State attacks from Syria, PM says

Reuters reports:

Iraq will take “all the necessary measures” to prevent cross-border attacks by Islamic State militants in Syria, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday.

Last year Iraqi warplanes carried out at least one strike on Islamic State targets inside Syria, in coordination with the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition and with the approval of the Syrian government.

“Daesh are present in eastern Syria, at the Iraqi border. I will take all necessary measures if they threaten the security Iraq,” Abadi told a news conference in Baghdad. He said he had communicated this position to U.S President Donald Trump on the telephone on Sunday.

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