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

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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Kuwait to host Iraq reconstruction conference in February: KUNA

Reuters reports:

Kuwait will host an international conference in February on reconstruction in parts of Iraq devastated by the war against Islamic State, the state-run Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) said on Tuesday.

Donor countries and organizations are expected to announce financial contributions at the meeting from Feb. 12 to Feb. 14, it reported.

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Movenpick to open new hotel in Basra

Sarah Townsend reports for The National:

Movenpick Hotels & Resorts will open a new hotel in Basra in the first quarter of this year as it seeks to capitalise on the city’s status as Iraq’s economic capital.

“Basra is one of the Middle East’s fastest-growing economic centres, a major oil producer that is undergoing rapid infrastructure development,” said Olivier Chavy, president and chief executive of the Swiss hospitality group.

“Our upcoming property will cater to pent-up demand from the corporate sector, which contributes around 90 per cent of hotel demand in Basra due to the high volume of oil and gas and shipping companies based in this booming region of Iraq.”

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Children of Terror Left Behind in Iraq

Heather Murdock writes for Voice of America:

Both of Maya's parents were Islamic State suicide bombers. Her four siblings were among their victims.

Plump, smiling and younger than two years old, Maya may never know anything of her past. "Maya" is not her real name.

As authorities in Iraq sort out the children that IS left behind — their orphans, the orphans of their victims, abandoned children of sex slaves, and children of foreign fighters — aid workers say they want to shield the youngest ones from their painful beginnings.

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