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

IS left 200 mass graves in Iraq – UN

BBC reports:

More than 200 mass graves containing thousands of bodies have been found in areas of Iraq that were once controlled by the Islamic State (IS) group, a UN investigation has found.

The graves were found in the north and western governorates of Nineveh, Kirkuk, Salahuddin and Anbar.

They could contain as many as 12,000 victims, the UN report said.

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Money moves again in Iraq’s Mosul, but not via banks

AFP reports:

Since ISIS was ousted from Mosul last year, taxi driver Abu Aref has ferried more than just people into the Iraqi city: he regularly smuggles envelopes stuffed with cash.

This is how salaries are paid and bills settled in the northern metropolis, despite the banks reopening since Iraqi forces seized it back last year from the extremist group after three years.

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Record-Setting Sale Of An Ancient Assyrian Stone Relief Sparks Looting Fears In Iraq

Jane Arraf writes for NPR:

A bidding war at Christie's this week sent the price of a 3,000-year-old stone relief from $7 million to more than $28 million, setting a world record for ancient Assyrian artworks and raising fears among some archaeologists that soaring prices will fuel the market for looted antiquities as well as legally acquired ones.

The 7-foot bas-relief from the palace of Nimrud in present-day Iraq was acquired in the 19th century, long before there were laws prohibiting the wholesale removal and export of archaeological treasures.

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Thousands of carp die in mysterious circumstances in Iraq

AFP reports:

Iraqi fish farmers south of Baghdad have been left reeling after finding thousands of dead carp mysteriously floating in their cages or washed up on the banks of the Euphrates.

Piles of the dead silvery fish, along with a few car tyres and plastic bags, could be seen on Friday (Nov 2) lying under a massive concrete bridge.

They covered the surface of deeper water nearby, providing rich pickings for birds circling above.

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Iraq’s new prime minister inherits a better country

The Economist reports:

Iraqis are desperate to reboot their creaking democracy. Nearly every government since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 has proven corrupt, incompetent or dysfunctional. Their new prime minister, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, hardly seems like a change. The 76-year-old former finance and oil minister belongs to the old elite, whose fathers were ministers when Iraq was a pro-British monarchy, and who owe their restoration to America.

Mr Abdul-Mahdi’s confirmation, five months after a marred election in May, was inauspicious. Parliament’s speaker cut off his reading of the government’s 122-page programme after 45 minutes. MPs rejected eight of his 22 cabinet nominees. The two largest Shia parties are quarrelling over posts. One of the few things Iraq’s politicians agree on is that plum jobs should continue to be handed out by sect.

But Mr Abdul-Mahdi has advantages that other prime ministers did not. Despite the kerfuffle over his cabinet, he has the backing of all the big parties. He also enjoys support from Shia clerics and, remarkably, both America and Iran. He wants to use their backing to end corruption, repair Iraq's electricity and water grids, and get militias out of the cities.

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Baghdad faces renewed protests in southern Iraq

Mina Aldroubi writes for The National:

Iraq's government is facing renewed pressure from the southern city of Basra to provide adequate public services, with nearly 120,000 people admitted to hospital with water poisoning.

The oil hub has seen growing public anger over poor infrastructure, contaminated water and lack of jobs in a region that generates the majority of the country's oil wealth.

"The renewed calls for protests are more about economic worries than political grievances, we are concerned about the new government's inability to provide public services such as water, electricity and employment opportunities," Mohammed Al Tai, a former member of parliament for Basra, told The National on Thursday.

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Iraqi Refugees in Syria Refuse to Return Home

Sirwan Kajjo and Zana Omar write for Voice of America:

Despite their cities and towns being freed from Islamic State (IS) militants, many Iraqi refugees who have settled in Syria say that do not wish to return to their homes.

Iraqi refugees interviewed by VOA at al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria voiced doubts about a possible return to their home country in the near future.

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Artists emerge from ruins of Mosul to reclaim Iraqi city’s cultural life

Raya Jalabi writes for Reuters:

The first thing musician Fadhel al-Badri did when Mosul was liberated from Islamic State last year was breathe a sigh of relief.

The militants who seized the city in 2014 had targeted artists like himself so when neighbours said they were hunting for him, he left home, called his wife to say he was likely to die and took to sleeping in a different place each night.

On Saturday, Badri and other musicians and activists attended the first orchestral concert in the northern Iraqi city since the militants were defeated more than a year ago by Iraqi and Kurdish forces and a coalition led by the United States.

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Iraq looks to snuff out ISIL remnants in remote Anbar province

Osama Bin Javaid writes for Al Jazeera:

The vast Anbar desert stretches across almost a third of Iraq, 138,000 square-kilometres of no man's land to the country's west.

Here, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL, also known as ISIS) sleeper cells use the remote area's mountain ranges, valleys and caves to plan and launch their attacks from.

The Iraqi military and US-led coalition are hesitant to give exact numbers but estimate that a few hundred fighters clustered in groups as small as two are all that remains of the group.

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Ancient Assyrian sculpture up for sale at Christie’s – but should it ever have left Iraq?

Rob Crilly and Mina Aldroubi write for The National:

A 3000-year-old Iraqi artefact goes on sale at Christie’s auction house in New York this week, where it is expected to fetch more than $10m for its American owners. However, the Iraqi government has demanded a halt to the sale of the two-metre frieze taken from an ancient Assyrian palace.

The case is the latest controversy to hit the American antiquities market. Dealers, auctioneers and museums have all had items confiscated.

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