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

NATO to join anti-IS coalition: diplomatic sources

AFP reports:

NATO is to join the US-led anti-Islamic State coalition, meeting a key demand of President Donald Trump that the alliance do more to fight Islamist terrorism, diplomatic sources said Wednesday.

Trump was due to meet NATO leaders in Brussels on Thursday to press his case, with the deadly IS-claimed bomb attack in Manchester high on the agenda.

Earlier Wednesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he expected NATO to join despite reservations by some members states which are fearful of getting dragged into another conflict.

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Kurdish independence in Iraq likely ‘not if but when’: U.S. general

Phil Stewart writes for Reuters:

An Iraqi Kurdish push for independence from Baghdad appears likely to be a question of "not if but when," in a significant challenge to Iraq's stability, the head of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency said on Tuesday.

Iraq's main Kurdish parties announced in April a plan to hold a referendum on independence this year, after the defeat of Islamic State militants.

The DIA's director, Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart, told a Senate hearing that the ability of Iraq's Kurds to reach an understanding with the Shi'ite-dominated government in Baghdad would be essential to avoid renewed conflict.

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US Military Admits Failures to Monitor Over $1 Billion Worth of Arms Transfers

Amnesty International reports:

The US Army failed to keep tabs on more than $1 billion worth of arms and other military equipment in Iraq and Kuwait according to a now declassified Department of Defense (DoD) audit, obtained by Amnesty International following Freedom of Information requests.

The government audit, from September 2016, reveals that the DoD “did not have accurate, up-to-date records on the quantity and location” of a vast amount of equipment pouring into Kuwait and Iraq to provision the Iraqi Army.

“This audit provides a worrying insight into the US Army’s flawed – and potentially dangerous – system for controlling millions of dollars’ worth of arms transfers to a hugely volatile region,” said Patrick Wilcken, Amnesty International’s Arms Control and Human Rights Researcher.

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“Most wanted” Yazidi urges others to help keep focus on her people’s plight

Belinda Goldsmith writes for Reuters:

An Iraqi parliamentarian and Yazidi activist known as Islamic State's "most wanted woman" wants other Yazidis to step onto the global stage to keep the plight of her people in the spotlight.

Vian Dakhil hit world headlines in August 2014 when she broke down in tears in Iraq's parliament when she plead for help for the religious minority under attack by Islamic State militants in Sinjar, northern Iraq, home to about 400,000 Yazidis.

Since 2014 Dakhil, one of only two ethnic Yazidis in Iraq's 328-member parliament, has campaigned tirelessly to keep world attention on her people, becoming, alongside former Islamic State sex slave Nadia Murad, the face of the Yazidis globally.

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Iraq probes allegations of human rights violations in Mosul

Sinan Salaheddin reports for AP:

Iraq's Interior Ministry said it launched an investigation into allegations of human rights violations perpetrated by its forces fighting the Islamic State group in Mosul.

The allegations were first reported by Germany's Der Spiegel magazine last weekend. The report, authored by an Iraqi photographer reportedly embedded with the police unit, claims he witnessed killing, torture and rape of IS suspects.

The ministry's spokesman, Brig. Gen Saad Maan, said on Tuesday that the newspaper report identifies the Emergency Response Division — an elite unit that answers to the Interior Ministry and has been closely backed by the U.S.-led coalition in the Mosul fight — as the perpetrator of the abuses. Maan did not give a time frame for the investigating but said "legal measures will be applied ... against wrongdoers."

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New bridge reunites Mosul as Iraqi forces gear up for final assault

Reuters reports:

Iraqi military engineers installed a new floating bridge across the Tigris river on Wednesday, reconnecting the two halves of Mosul to facilitate troop deployments ahead of a final assault to dislodge Islamic State.

All five bridges connecting the two sides of the city bisected by the Tigris were struck by the U.S.-led coalition in order to hinder the militants' movements in the early stages of the campaign to retake Mosul last year.

Seven months on, Iraqi forces have removed Islamic State from all but a pocket of territory in the western half of Mosul, including the Old City, where the militants are expected to make their last stand.

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Lipstick and dresses return to Mosul’s streets

BBC News reports:

People living in the Iraqi city of Mosul, overrun by so-called Islamic State (IS) three years ago, have described a life of terror, with children killed for minor misdemeanours, public floggings and regular disappearances.

Exclusive footage and testimony from the east of Iraq's second city, recaptured in January, reveals how the extremist group persecuted women and religious minorities and tried to control all aspects of people's lives.

However, the videos also show how schools and cafes are reopening and shops restocking with previously banned products.

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UN Official: Islamic State’s Days Numbered in Iraq

Margaret Besheer writes for Voice of America:

The United Nations' top diplomat in Iraq said the so-called Islamic State's days "are numbered" in that country and the liberation of the city of Mosul is "imminent."

"The days of so-called ISIL caliphate in Iraq are numbered, thanks to the bravery and patriotism of the Iraqi security forces, including the popular mobilization forces, the peshmerga and the tribal volunteers, as well as the endurance of the Iraqi people," the head of the U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq, Jan Kubis, told Security Council members Monday.

"The liberation of Mosul is imminent," he said of the terror group's last stronghold in Iraq. "Operations are shifting to remaining areas and pockets of Daesh presence, including along the borders with Syria," Kubis said.

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Boundary between Iraq, Kurdish territory divides communities

Balint Szlanko writes for AP:

As Omar Rashad’s combine clutters down the barley field in northern Iraq, the farmer shields his eyes from the scorching sun and points at the tall berm at the end of his land, just past a cluster of agricultural buildings.

The berm he points to marks the de facto border between federal Iraq and its self-governing Kurdish region in the north. It was built in November after Kurdish Peshmerga forces pushed about 5 kilometers (3 miles) into the Nineveh plains outside Mosul with the support of the U.S.-led coalition, retaking a cluster of towns and villages from the Islamic State group.

Now, more than half of Rashad’s land, some 20 hectares (50 acres), is on the other side of the line in Iraqi federal territory. Crossing over to it is so complicated — requiring daily approval from both Iraqi and Kurdish authorities — that he has given up.

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Iraq agrees to nine-month extension of OPEC production cut: minister

AFP reports:

Iraq has agreed to a nine-month extension of a production cut pact among OPEC members that is aimed at boosting crude prices, the country's oil minister said on Monday.

"We are in agreement with the kingdom (of Saudi Arabia)... to continue the production cut" for another nine months, Jabbar al-Luaybi told a news conference in Baghdad alongside the Saudi energy minister, Khalid al-Falih.

"After our conversation with the prime minister, he gave the green light to his excellency (the Iraqi oil minister) to approve" the nine-month extension, Falih said.

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