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

Special Report: In Mosul’s fall, informers played vital role against Islamic State

Michael Georgy, Ahmed Rasheed, and Raya Jalabi write for Reuters:

One informer said he hid the sim card from his mobile phone in a water filter to avoid detection by Islamic State. Another concealed his in a sack of rice and made calls to his Iraqi handlers from a basement.

They were among several hundred Mosul residents who provided information on Islamic State targets during the victorious nine-month battle for Iraq’s second biggest city, Iraqi military and Kurdish intelligence officials said.

They included taxi drivers, Iraqi soldiers and defectors from Islamic State. Without their help, officials say, the fighting would have dragged on longer, snared in Mosul’s narrow alleys.

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A Lasting Defeat: The Campaign to Destroy ISIS

Ash Carter writes for The Belfer Center:

On December 11, 2016, just before my time as Secretary of Defense would end, I stepped off a C-130 transport plane onto a cold and dusty patch of northern Iraq that had been on my mind for more than a year: an Iraqi military airfield called Qayyarah West. Q-West, as it was known to the American military, was a talisman of progress on one of the defining issues of my time as secretary, the fight to defeat ISIS. A year before, General Joe Dunford and I had briefed the President on a plan to energize the counter-ISIS fight. We had laid out a series of military tasks, in Iraq and Syria, that would lead us to the liberation of ISIS’ strongholds in Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria. Q-West was a fulcrum of that plan. Ejecting ISIS and turning the airstrip into a logistics hub was essential to seizing Mosul, just 40 miles to the north.

Standing next to Lieutenant General Steve Townsend, the commander Joe and I had selected to lead the fight, I told a small group of reporters: “I wanted to come here to Qayyarah West personally, particularly at this holiday time, to thank our troops who are out here at a pretty austere location that was in [ISIS] hands not long ago…. That has been part of our plan for more than a year now. This very airfield was part of our plan of more than a year ago.”

That plan had become reality, and I was there to see it in person. Iraqi forces, with the support of a U.S.-led global coalition, had seized Q-West just as planned. In fact, the campaign plan that had unfolded on the battlefield was the same one I had presented to President Obama the previous December. I had been looking at Q-West on campaign maps for a long time.

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Jalal Talabani: ‘The Rare Politician Who Could Talk to Anybody’

Krishnadev Calamur writes for The Atlantic:

Jalal Talabani, who dominated Kurdish politics for decades, ascended to the Iraqi presidency in the post-Saddam Hussein era, and yet remained Mam (“uncle”) Jalal to his people, has died in Berlin. He was 83.

No cause was given by Rudaw, the Kurdish news agency, but it said that Talabani had slipped into a coma earlier Tuesday. The former Iraqi president had been ailing since 2012 when he suffered a stroke that effectively removed him from daily Kurdish politics.

Over the years, Talabani embraced, sometimes literally, allies from across the political spectrum. He and his Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) made common cause with Saddam in the early 1980s when the Iraqi dictator tried to divide the Kurds during his war with Iran. (The PUK, which was most left wing, saw itself as distinct from Masoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party, which drew its support from the rural parts of Kurdish territory.) He sought refuge in Iran after Saddam gassed the Kurds in 1988. He was a close ally of the U.S., and especially the second Bush administration, whose invasion of Iraq in 2003 resulted in Saddam’s ouster and saw Talabani’s unlikely ascent to the presidency.

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Jalal Talabani, former Iraqi president and PUK leader, has died

Rudaw reports:

Former Iraqi president and leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Jalal Talabani has passed away in hospital in Berlin, Germany, aged 83.

While remaining nominally head of the PUK, Talabani withdrew from public life after suffering a stroke in December 2012. He was in Germany seeking health care and had reportedly slipped into a coma earlier in the day. According to the PUK, his condition rapidly deteriorated on Tuesday.

Known affectionately by Kurds as Mam Jalal, meaning uncle, Jalal Hisamadin Talabani was born on November 12, 1933 in the village of Kalkan near Mount Kosrat.

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U.N. says 78,000 civilians could be trapped in Iraq’s Hawija

Reuters reports:

Up to 78,000 people could be trapped in Islamic State-held Hawija in northern Iraq, the United Nations said on Tuesday, as security forces push to recapture the town.

Iraq started an offensive on Sept. 21 to seize Hawija, which fell to the hands of militants after the Iraqi army collapsed in 2014 in the face of the Islamic State offensive and remains the last militant-held town in the country’s north.

U.N. humanitarian spokesman Jens Laerke said the number of people who have fled the fighting has increased from 7,000 people during the first week of the operation to some 12,500 people now. But up to 78,000 remain trapped, he said.

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End of ISIS: Victims of the Islamic State Group Are Taking Revenge However They Can

Emily Feldman writes for Newsweek:

Days after the Islamic State group fled Mosul, Saeed Quraishi was in a judge’s office in Iraq’s Nineveh province when two women arrived. They were handing over suspects with links to ISIS. But these weren't hardened fighters or even sympathizers. They were their children, all under the age of 3. “We don’t want them,” the women said. “Their fathers are [ISIS], and they raped us.”

Quraishi watched as the women walked away, leaving their crying babies behind. He wondered if the women’s families had pressured them to give up the children. “It was a horrible situation,” says Quraishi, an Iraqi human rights worker, who asked to use a pseudonym because he feared for his safety. “Even if it was their decision, that is not easy.”

The incident wasn’t isolated. In the months since Iraqi forces ousted ISIS from Mosul, those reeling from the group’s brutal treatment have been hungry for revenge. Many have cut ties with their families and accused neighbors of ISIS-related crimes. Others have become vigilantes, rendering justice as they see fit. Earlier this year, aid workers and journalists discovered more than two dozen bodies floating down the Tigris River near Mosul. The dead—many bound and blindfolded—were ISIS suspects, likely executed by state-affiliated forces.

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Iraqi forces seize air base from Islamic state near Hawija

Reuters reports:

Iraqi forces and Shi‘ite paramilitaries captured an air base from Islamic State on Monday, the army said, gaining a strategic foothold in the north of the country as they push toward the town of Hawija.

Iraq launched an offensive on September 21 to dislodge Islamic State from Hawija, which lies west of the oil city of Kirkuk and is one of two areas of the country still under the control of the militant group.

Iraqi army commanders said the Rashad air base, which is around 30 km (20 miles) south of Hawija, was used by the militants as a training camp and logistic base.

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Fixing Fallujah: City tests Iraq’s ability to bounce back

Sofia Barbarani writes for IRIN:

Midday in Fallujah and the searing sun beats down on the dust-caked roads. The salmon-hued General Hospital towers prominently over the city: ground zero for a rebuilding and reconciliation process that holds vital clues about Iraq’s ability to move on from so-called Islamic State.

What was once a fully functioning medical facility that served 400,000 local people has yet to recover from two and a half years of war and IS rule.

Fallujah became the first major Iraqi city to fall to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his army in January 2014. IS used part of the hospital to treat fighters. Their clothes and belongings are still strewn over the floors.

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Islamic State Militants Attempt Ambush in Mosul

Heather Murdock writes for Voice of America:

Mosul’s Old City is covered in rubble and virtually abandoned. Entire blocks are destroyed and many families still haven't found the bodies of their relatives under the crushed buildings.

Iraqi forces and locals are slowly trying to make the area inhabitable, with technical teams searching house by house for bombs, more than two months after government forces re-took Mosul.

But on Saturday, Islamic State militants hiding out in one of the homes were waiting.

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Captured ISIS Fighters’ Refrain: ‘I Was Only a Cook’

Rod Nordland writes for The New York Times:

Thousands of civilians fleeing the Iraqi military’s push to evict the Islamic State from its last major urban stronghold in Iraq now include hundreds of suspected fighters for the extremist group, dirty and disheveled, who arrive at checkpoints claiming innocence and begging for mercy.

While civilians from the stronghold, the city of Hawija, have sought safety in Kirkuk and elsewhere in Iraq’s Kurdish region, this past weekend was the first time they came in large numbers with men of fighting age.

According to Iraqi Kurdish officials in Kirkuk, 90 percent of these men are suspected of having been Islamic State fighters — including some who may have committed beheadings and other atrocities — and they are being aggressively interrogated.

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