Here are this week’s top stories on Iraq, followed by the Iraq Video of the Week.
UN News Center
Acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in Iraq claimed the lives of 670 people, including 410 civilians, in February 2016, the United Nations political mission in that country has reported. According to figures verified by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), 260 members of the Iraqi Security Forces and 410 civilians were killed, while 240 security forces personnel and 1.050 civilians were injured.
Dan De Luce & Paul McLeary | Foreign Policy
American Special Forces are preparing the ground for Iraq’s campaign to retake key city from the Islamic State. The capture of an Islamic State militant by commandos from the U.S. Army’s elite Delta Force didn’t just take a wanted fighter off the battlefield. It also highlighted that the battle to reconquer the pivotal city of Mosul has already begun.
Ali Mamouri | Al-Monitor
Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s contemplated Cabinet reshuffle to include technocrats and academics seems to be impossible in light of the sectarian political system in the country and the prevailing skepticism about this step among the political class.
Kevin Baron | Defense One
ISIS is under air, ground, and cyber attack as Iraqi and coalition troops encircle the group’s final stronghold in Iraq, the Joint Chiefs chairman says. The battle for Mosul ultimately will be the biggest U.S. operation in Iraq since the end of the last war. That was Monday’s message from Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, who said multinational forces have begun to cut off the city’s supply and communications lines, and to encircle and isolate Islamic State fighters with cyber and air and ground attacks.
Helene Cooper & Matthew Rosenberg | The New York Times
Recent gains against the Islamic State in eastern Syria have helped sever critical supply lines to Iraq and set the stage for what will be the biggest fight yet against the Sunni militancy, the battle to retake Mosul, Pentagon officials said on Monday.
Sharon Behn | Voice of America
Iraq’s Mosul Dam risks “catastrophic failure” and a massive wall of water that would sweep downstream anything in its path, including bodies, buildings, cars, unexploded ordnances and hazardous chemicals, the U.S. is warning. The dam, located on the Tigris River just north of Mosul, is the largest in the country.
Michael Knights | Al Jazeera
Led by forceful politicians with military backgrounds such as Badr Organization leader Hadi al-Amiri and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the PMU initially played key roles in the protection of Samarra, Baghdad and Karbala; in the relief of the siege of Amerli; in the liberation of Jurf al-Sakr and the protection of pilgrim routes; and int he clearing of ISIL from large swaths of Diyala. As the ISIL threat to overrun Iraq’s majority Shia areas has receded, the PMU has begun to fragment.
Iraq Video of the Week:
Falling oil prices and the rising cost of the war against ISIL is causing hardship in Iraq. Salaries for government employees have been cut, and they get paid every six weeks instead of monthly. Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan reports from Baghdad. (Video Length: 2:24)