Erbil-Mosul highway blocked by protesters angry over Nineveh PMF withdrawal order

Paramilitary units to be replaced by Iraqi Army
Mosul-Erbil road after being closed by pro-PMF protests (NRT Digital Media)

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SULAIMANIA — Protesters angry about an order to withdraw units of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) from parts of Nineveh governorate blocked the main road between Erbil and Mosul on Monday (August 5).

Photos circulating on social media showed large piles of dirt blocking the road and protesters holding signs.

As part of the government's effort to integrate the PMF more closely into the formal command structure of the armed forces, Baghdad has ordered local PMF units to withdraw and be replaced by regular army units, who would be responsible for local security.

A witness near the event told NRT Digital Media that the protesters wanted the government to rescind the order and said that they would continue their protest until their demands were met.

The witness also claimed that the PMF had encouraged others to join the demonstrations and for shopkeepers to close their shops.

Also known as the Hashd al-Shaabi, the PMF is largely-Shia paramilitary umbrella organization that was organized to fight Islamic State. However, its political, military, and economic power across the country has worried observers, who say that it operates largely outside government control.

(NRT Digital Media)