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

Slaves of ISIS: the long walk of the Yazidi women

Cathy Otten writes for The Guardian:

The day before Isis came was a holiday in Sinjar district, northern Iraq. Yazidis gathered to celebrate the end of a fasting period. It was 2 August 2014. Harvested wheat fields stood short and stubbly under the shadowless sun. People slaughtered sheep and gathered with their relatives to celebrate the holiday, handing out sweets and exchanging news and gossip. In the past, they would have invited their Muslim neighbours to join the celebrations, but more recently a distance had grown between them, leading the villagers to keep mostly to their own.

At dusk, unfamiliar vehicles started to appear. The lights of the cars could be seen moving in the desert beyond the outlying villages. A sense of foreboding grew as darkness fell. The Yazidi men took their guns and set out to check the horizon beyond the wheat fields, peering toward the villages.

On their return, they gathered in Sinjar town centre in small, tense groups. Convoys of cars, kicking up dust in the distance, had appeared two months before, just before the city of Mosul – the capital of Nineveh province, of which Sinjar is a part – fell to Islamic State (Isis). Mosul is 120km (75 miles) east of Sinjar, and its capture was quickly followed by the fall of other towns. Four divisions of the Iraqi army collapsed, including the third division, which was based around Sinjar and included many Yazidis. The area was almost completely defenceless.

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Children survive ‘Islamic State’ hungry and traumatized

Judit Neurink writes for Deutsche Welle:

"Look, he is walking again!" Hanan Mohammed, 43, smiles, setting her two-year-old down on his skinny legs. The family of three recently escaped the Old City of Mosul, where fighting had been going on for weeks, and food and water had been scarce for months.

"Daesh left us hungry," she says, using the local abbreviation for the self-styled "Islamic State" (IS) militant group. "There was nothing to buy, and what was there was very expensive." That's why she could not feed her children and lost a six-month-old baby to malnutrition. Her son had started walking, but stopped again for the same reason.

The single mother of two small children found refuge in Salamiyah, one of the newer camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) from Mosul. Many here have some connection to IS. Mohammed's husband was killed in the shelling - after she divorced him, possibly because he was a member of the militant Islamist group. She and her children lived with her parents and were moved by IS to serve as human shields. There was no water, no food, and there were constant bombardments. Those who tried to escape were killed by IS.

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Among the Ruins of Mosul

Alexandra Genova and Felipe Dana report for National Geographic:

The city of Mosul, though officially retaken by Iraqi forces as of Tuesday, lies in ruins. At the end of nearly nine months of grueling combat, thousands are dead, roughly 900,000 civilians have been displaced and entire neighborhoods are destroyedThe cost of military victory is dear.

For AP photographer Felipe Dana, who has been posted in the northern Iraq city since October, the victory marks the end of the battle but not the war. “If it’s finished today, I don’t think people will just go back and rebuild their lives and everything is going to be fine, it’s not going to be like that,” Dana tells National Geographic. He is concerned not just for the civilians’ rehabilitation, but also about Islamic State beliefs manifesting themselves in other, more insidious ways.

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IS Fighters in Disarray in Iraq Due to Air Power, says US General

Jamie Dettmer writes for Voice of America:

Islamic State fighters in Iraq appear to be in disarray and are managing only sporadic counterattacks, after losing the months-long battle for the city of Mosul, says a top U.S. general.

According to Gen. Andrew Croft, the highest ranking U.S. Air Force officer in Iraq, the jihadists are struggling to regroup with their fragmented forces, due to coalition air power restricting one of their past battlefield strengths, the ability to move rapidly and amass fighters.

In 2015, IS demonstrated its mobility, enabling it to counter-punch and score episodic successes to establish a pattern of jihadist wins.

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German schoolgirl who allegedly joined ISIS may be tried in Iraq

Judith Vonberg reports for CNN:

A 16-year-old German girl who ran away from home in 2016 and allegedly joined ISIS has been found alive in Iraq, the German government confirmed Monday.

Linda Wenzel, a schoolgirl from the town of Pulsnitz near Dresden, was one of at least five foreign women captured by Iraqi forces sweeping the old city of Mosul after the defeat of ISIS, according to sources within the counter-terror operation in Mosul.

The sources added that the women have now been moved to Baghdad and are under interrogation.

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Iran and Iraq sign accord to boost military cooperation

Reuters reports:

Iran and Iraq signed an agreement on Sunday to step up military cooperation and the fight against "terrorism and extremism", Iranian media reported, an accord which is likely to raise concerns in Washington.

Iranian Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan and his Iraqi counterpart Erfan al-Hiyali signed a memorandum of understanding which also covered border security, logistics and training, the official news agency IRNA reported.

"Extending cooperation and exchanging experiences in fighting terrorism and extremism, border security, and educational, logistical, technical and military support are among the provisions of this memorandum," IRNA reported after the signing of the accord in Tehran.

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After Mosul victory, Iraq mulls future of Shiite militias

Susannah George  writes for AP:

In the wake of victory against the Islamic State group in Mosul, Iraq's political, religious and military leaders are debating the future of the country's powerful Shiite militias — the tens of thousands of men who answered a religious call to arms three years ago and played a critical role in beating back the extremists.

Some are demanding the mostly Iranian-backed forces be disbanded but the militias say their sacrifices on the battlefield and the fact they were sanctioned by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi have earned them a permanent place in the hierarchy of Iraq's security forces.

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Does the New York Times Want America In Iraq for One Hundred Years?

Curt Mills writes for The National Interest:

The headline of the New York Times piece was breathless: “Iran Dominates in Iraq After U.S. Handed the Country Over.” The content was only slightly less so: “But after the United States’ abrupt withdrawal of troops in 2011, American constancy is still in question here—a broad failure of American foreign policy, with responsibility shared across three administrations.”

The statement is curious. “What about U.S. history of involvement there tells you it’s going to end well?” asks Hussein Banai of Indiana University Bloomington. Arango’s reporting, which advocates for “American constancy” in Iraq, “contributes to this mythmaking on all sides that all Iraq might need is a U.S. stablizing force,” says Banai. “And it’s just ridiculous.” (Iran’s foreign minister, the veteran diplomat Javad Zarif, also complained about this piece in comments to the National Interest on Monday).

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Iraqis numb pain of Islamic State in newly re-opened bar

Isabel Coles writes for Reuters:

In a town ravaged by the war against Islamic State, amid ransacked homes and shuttered shops, a flashing sign above the entrance to one business beckons visitors: "Welcome", it reads.

Inside, the floors are carpeted, the lights are low, and the gurgling sound of water pipes accompanies hushed conversations between men drinking beer in small groups.

It is the first bar to reopen since Islamic State militants were routed from the northern Iraqi town of Qaraqosh nine months ago in the early stages of a campaign to retake Mosul, around 15 km (10 miles) west.

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Mosul morgue workers struggle to cope with ‘river of blood’

Isabel Coles writes for Reuters:

The fridges are nearly full at the morgue in Mosul where the casualties of war with Islamic State are stored.

So many bodies are brought in that the morgue workers struggle to identify and bury the dead fast enough to make space for the next batch that arrives with grim regularity, as the city's residents clear up after nine months of urban warfare.

The battle for Mosul is over, but the task of sorting out the dead is only just beginning.

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