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Iraq Sunnis fear unrest as Shia militias return to confront Daesh

Iraqi soldiers conduct a military operation against Daesh in Iraq on 29 December 2019 [Alı Makram Ghareeb/Anadolu Agency]
Iraqi soldiers conduct a military operation against Daesh in Iraq on 29 December 2019 [Alı Makram Ghareeb/Anadolu Agency]

The Iraqi residents of a number of Sunni-dominated governorates are afraid that the redeployment of Shia factions in their areas as part of the security forces’ campaign to combat Daesh will lead to sectarian unrest.

Following a string of violent attacks by Daesh militants on a number of Iraqi cities and villages  in the Sunni-dominated governorates of Diyala, Kirkuk and Mosul, security forces and army, supported by the Shia Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), launched a security campaign which included conducting raids and search campaigns and establishing random military checkpoints between cities and villages.

Iraqi journalist Walid Al-Karkhi explained that residents are afraid to pass through the checkpoints as the PMF uses them to kidnap Sunnis.

READ: Thousands restart anti-government protests in Iraq 

According to Al-Karkhi since 2003 the Shia factions have been operating independently of the official security forces in Diyala governorate.

“When someone is kidnaped while passing through a checkpoint, the relatives often review the official security authorities for information to find out that there is no official record of the arrest,” he said.

Al-Karkhi explained that detainees are either killed and thrown into the Diyala River, or held until his/her family pays a ransom.

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