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

Billions in Iraqi reconstruction money finally accounted for

Paul Richter reports for the Los Angeles Times:

A federal audit has finally accounted for nearly $6.6 billion in Iraqi reconstruction money that seemed to have disappeared after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, ending a mystery that highlighted the chaos of the early days of the U.S. occupation.

The Pentagon flew the Iraqi cash under its control to Baghdad in planeloads of shrink-wrapped bundles of $100 bills in 2003 and 2004. But its failure to keep complete records showing where the money went fueled concern that some or all of it had been stolen.

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Militants Aided by Iran Fired at G.I.’s in Iraq, Officials Say

Michael S. Schmidt reports for the New York Times:

Militants trained and financed by Iran’s Quds Force attacked United States forces in Iraq on Wednesday, American officials said, continuing a role they have played in recent years in a proxy war between the United States and Iran.

The militants fired rockets at American forces at Contingency Operating Station Garry Owen in the southern province of Maysan, which borders Iran. The military said three soldiers were wounded in the assault at the station, which has been hit by rockets repeatedly this year as militants have increased attacks. The military provided few other details of the attack.

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Twin explosions in Baghdad kill 17 people

Two explosions in a Shiite neighborhood of eastern Baghdad killed 17 people and wounded around 50 others Thursday night, Iraqi officials said, according to a report by Sameer N. Yacoub for the Associated Press.

The blasts in the Sadr City neighborhood, coming a day after attacks across the capital killed 25 people, served as a reminder of the lengths to which Sunni militants are trying to go in order to re-ignite sectarian tensions as American forces prepare to go home.

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U.S. military says legal immunity in Iraq ‘requirement’

Legal immunity is a must for any American troops serving in Iraq as part of a training mission past year-end, the US military's spokesman in the country said on Thursday, Prashant Rao reports for AFP.

Major General Jeffrey Buchanan's remarks come amid an apparent impasse between Baghdad and Washington over the issue, with Iraqi political leaders saying this month that while they backed a US training mission post-2011, there was "no need" for such protection.

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Bombings target Iraqi police

Five explosions targeting local police shook the capital within the span of an hour Wednesday morning, two days after Iraq’s leaders requested that at least 5,000 U.S. military trainers remain into 2012 to advise the country’s fledgling security forces, Dan Zak and Asaad Majeed report for the Washington Post.

The bombs killed at least 22 people and injured more than 70, many of them police officers, in attacks across the city. It was the bloodiest day in Baghdad since Aug. 28, when a suicide bomber killed 28 people at the city’s largest Sunni mosque.

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In western Iraq, a bloody American legacy

In 2006 alone, there were 1,129 total insurgent attacks in Anbar; this year there have been 333. The provincial police force, nonexistent five years ago, employs 32,000 officers, Dan Zak reports for The Washington Post.

Those numbers are cited by the Americans now leaving Iraq as cause for optimism. But the Iraqis who will stay in Anbar have been taking a darker view of 2012 — wondering whether the province is in the clear or merely in the eye of a storm.

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Army to stay in cities

The Iraqi army was supposed to pull out of the nation's cities by the end of this year but is delaying the pullback over security concerns, the Iraqi military spokesman said, Qassim Abdul-Zahra reports for The Associated Press.

The delay is an acknowledgment that even after four years of declining violence, Iraq's police force is not capable of maintaining security on its own. The other worry is that violence will increase when American troops complete their own withdrawal from the country at year's end.

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Maliki hints at troop contingent

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said U.S. troops might still be able to stay in Iraq as trainers beyond a 2011 withdrawal date, even though the country's political blocs have rejected giving immunity to any American soldiers, Suadad al-Salhy reports for Reuters.

U.S. troops could be attached to the existing U.S. embassy training mission, or join a broader NATO training group, rather than seek a bilateral deal requiring U.S. immunity that would fail to pass Iraq's parliament.

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State Dept readies for massive Iraq ops

The State Department is racing against an end-of-year deadline to take over Iraq operations from the U.S. military, throwing together buildings and marshaling contractors in its biggest overseas operation since the effort to rebuild Europe after World War II, Mary Beth Sheridan and Dan Zak report for The Washington Post.

Attention in Washington and Baghdad has centered on the number of U.S. troops that could remain in Iraq. But those forces will be dwarfed by an estimated 16,000 civilians under the American ambassador — the size of an Army division.

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Iraq giving Syria support as crackdown continues

More than six months after the start of the Syrian uprising, Iraq is offering key moral and financial support to the country’s embattled president, undermining a central U.S. policy objective and raising fresh concerns that Iraq is drifting further into the orbit of an American arch rival — Iran, Joby Warrick reports for The Washington Post.

Iraq’s stance has dealt an embarrassing setback to the Obama administration, which has sought to enlist Muslim allies in its campaign to isolate Syrian autocrat Bashar al-Assad. While other Arab states have downgraded ties with Assad, Iraq has moved in the opposite direction, hosting official visits by Syrians, signing pacts to expand business ties and offering political support.

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