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

Iraqi PM Abadi to seek re-election, in alliance with Iran-backed group

Ahmed Rasheed writes for Reuters:

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Sunday announced he would stand for re-election on May 12 at the head of a cross-sectarian bloc, and received the support of a powerful Shi‘ite group close to Iran.

Abadi, a Shi‘ite Muslim who led Iraq in the three-year war against the jihadist group Islamic State, said the “Victory Alliance” that he was assembling to contest the parliamentary election would include candidates from other communities.

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Iraqi Yazidis celebrate restoration of temple destroyed by IS

AFP reports:

Northern Iraq's Yazidi community that suffered so terribly under Islamic State group persecution celebrated on Friday as it inaugurated a restored temple to the sound of traditional drums and flutes.

Overlooked by conical domes of polished stone, hundreds of men in dishdasha robes and women veiled in white gathered at the site which was blown up by the rampaging jihadists in 2014.

The temple at Bashiqa was one of 68 Yazidi temples destroyed by IS, officials said -- and one of the last of 23 in the region to be restored.

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A new life sprouts up around Mosul after scars of IS rule

AFP reports:

Even before the Islamic State group took over her home city of Mosul, Iraqi 31-year-old Nesrine never imagined she would have a job working late into the evening at a fashion boutique.

But now, in districts of Iraq's second city not left totally devastated by the ferocious fighting to oust the jihadists, life is buzzing again -- with more vibrancy than ever.

"We have experienced depression, hunger, ruin and oppression. It is a miracle that we are still alive," Nesrine told AFP.

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Iraqi militias form of one of the biggest political coalitions for elections

Mina Aldroubi writes for The National:

Iraq’s paramilitary militias announced the establishment of one of the biggest political blocs to run in the country’s upcoming general elections as the registration of electoral coalitions closed on Thursday.

“The establishment of Al Fatih coalition comprises of Al Badr Organisation, Asaib Ahl Al Haq, Harakat Hizbollah Al Nujaba and others,” said Hadi Al Ameri, leader of Al Badr Organisation.

The militias are part of the Hashed Al Shaabi, also known as the Popular Mobilisation Units or Popular Mobilisation Forces, which was formed in 2014 after after Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani, Iraq's top Shiite cleric, urged citizens to take up arms against ISIL militants who had swept aside government forces and seized control of much of northern Iraq. Its component militias are mostly trained and supported by Iran and remain deeply divisive, with some accused of abuses against civilians.

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Yazidi Children Rescued From IS Getting Psychological Help

Rikar Hussein and Kawa Omar write for Voice of America:

Dozens of Yazidi children who have been rescued from the Islamic State terror group in Iraq and Syria are now receiving counseling to cope with and recover from the trauma they experienced during their years in captivity.

At Qadiya refugee camp near the Iraqi Kurdistan Region's northern city of Duhok, more than 100 Yazidi boys and girls aged between 4 and 13, who were kidnapped by IS in August 2014, are getting assistance to recover from the psychological harm they sustained under IS control.

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8 Earthquakes Strike Along Iran-Iraq Border

Amir Vahdat And Jon Gambrell report for AP:

A series of eight earthquakes hit the Iran-Iraq border area and rattled Baghdad on Thursday, apparent aftershocks of a temblor that struck the mountainous region in November and killed over 530 people. Four people suffered minor injuries in Iran, state television reported.

The U.S. Geological Survey said seven of the quakes struck near the Iraqi city of Mandali, 120 kilometers (75 miles) northeast of the Iraqi capital. Mandali is right on the border between the two nations. The eighth hit near Mehran in western Iran, about 90 kilometers (55 miles) southeast of Mandali along the sparsely populated Zagros Mountains that divide Iran and Iraq.

All the earthquakes struck within an hour of each other, beginning at 0659 GMT. Six had a preliminary magnitude of at least 5, while two registered at magnitude 4. Scientists consider earthquakes of magnitude 5 as moderate.

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Inside Mosul Dam, Iraq’s biggest potential weapon of mass destruction

Hollie McKay writes for Fox News:

From the crack of dawn to a starry dusk, hundreds of technicians from around the world can be seen against a backdrop of pale-colored mountains and a still, sapphire reservoir. It appears serene and picturesque, but those workers are rushing to salvage Iraq’s deteriorating Mosul Dam – which was once under ISIS control and straddles the Tigris River just 40 miles upstream from the city of Mosul.

Failure to reinforce and maintain the dam could mean unleashing what is, in effect, a potential weapon of mass destruction.

“When we started, the risk assessment regarding the potential fate of the dam was very high. And ISIS had stolen everything that was here,” Carlos Morales, deputy project manager for Trevi, the Italian company awarded the repair and maintenance contract to prevent catastrophe, told Fox News on a recent exclusive visit to Mosul Dam.

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Mosul’s old heart in ruins six months after IS ousted

AFP reports:

Along the waterfront of the Euphrates River in Iraq's war-torn Mosul, gaping holes in hotel walls reveal little but enormous heaps of rubble.

Six months since Iraqi forces seized the country's second city from Islamic State group jihadists, human remains still rot in front of the Al-Nuri mosque.

The building, denuded of its iconic minaret and largely reduced to ruins by the fighting, was the site of the only known public appearance by IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi following the group's declaration of a "caliphate" in 2014.

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Iraq parliament forms committee to investigate war crimes in Tuz Khurmatu

Mina Aldroubi writes for The National:

The Iraqi parliament has voted to set up a committee to investigate possible war crimes in the multi-ethnic town of Tuz Khurmatu following its recapture by Iraqi forces from Kurdish Peshmerga fighters.

Tuz Khumatu, located 90 kilometres south of the disputed oil-rich city of Kirkuk, has been at the forefront of deep sectarian tensions for the past few years. The multi-ethnic town is home to Turkmen, Arabs and Kurds and was among the contested areas recaptured by Iraqi troops and pro-government mainly Shiite militias in October last year in the wake of the Kurdish independence referendum.

Before its recapture on October 16, clashes had repeatedly broken out in Tuz Khumatu between Peshmerga fighters and the mainly Shiite militias collectively known as the Hashed Al Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation Units or Forces).

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Teachers in Iraq’s Mosul learn to cope with traumatized pupils

AFP reports:

On a classroom whiteboard in the battered city of Mosul the words “rediscovering how to smile” outline the heartbreaking task of Iraqi teachers striving to heal their students’ mental scars after brutal Daesh group rule.

Dozens of Iraqi teachers — many battling trauma themselves — have gathered at a university, where instructor Nazem Shaker seeks to guide them in helping children still struggling to cope months after Daesh was driven from the devastated city.

Shaker has drawn a “problem tree” on the board whose roots are a litany of anguish: “relatives killed,” “witnessing beheadings,” “destruction” and “poverty.”

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