Shia Militias in Diyala restrict access to Baghdad

September 26, 2017 at 4:16 pm

Residents of Khanaqin area facing obstacles travelling to Baghdad (August 2017)

One day after a referendum on independence was held in which people of Kurdistan region and the disputed territories voted overwhelmingly to separate from Iraq, Shia militias at Hamrin checkpoint in Diyala province are preventing the residents of Khanaqin which is a disputed territory from travelling to Baghdad.

The militias are preventing the people from Khanaqin and the surrounding areas who are mostly Kurds to travel to Baghdad even though the Iraqi government has not issued such a directive. The militia forced a number of Kurds and Arab to turn around at Hamrin checkpoint on Tuesday, September 26.

“It was around 10 this morning, I wanted to go to Baghdad, but the Hashd asked for the Identity cards of the passengers on the bus and whoever was Kurd was turned around,” said Saman Karim a resident from Sadiya subdistrict who resides in Khanaqin.

A number of vehicles belonging to Arabs and Kurds were not given permission at the same checkpoint to proceed to Baghdad.

This incident comes one day after Kurdistan Regional Government held a referendum for independence in disputed territories and the Kurdish region in which around 72% of the eligible voters turned out. On the day of the referendum, a group of Shia militia fired upon a vehicle carrying peshmerga on Monday in Tuz Khormato killing the driver and wounding a peshmerga fighter.

Iran, Turkey, and Baghdad have threatened severe repercussions for the KRG after it did not heed their warnings and went ahead with the plebiscite. Iraq and Turkey started carrying out a military drill in the border area with the Kurdish region. Turkey has threatened to take every measure if the Kurds in Iraq threaten its national security including cutting off the pipeline that carries around 500-600k bpd oil from the northern oilfields to the Turkish port of Ceyhan and from there to the international markets.

Khalil Khodadai the head of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan office in Jalawla said that the militia has forced vehicles to turn around belonging to Arabs let alone Kurds.

Amir Abdulrahman the head of driver’s union in Khanaqin confirmed the incident but said that the decision to turn around drivers at Hamrin checkpoint is arbitrary and not issued by Baghdad as passengers can still drive through Naftkhana and Mandali.

Harim road to Baghdad is the main road between Diyala and Baghdad. This incident comes after Iraqi parliament ordered the shutting of all the corridors to the Kurdistan region.

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