ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Protesters blocked the Baghdad-Kirkuk Road on Friday in response to statements by an education official in the disputed province of Kirkuk the day before, a security source told Kurdistan 24.
In his comments, the high-level official accused a faction of the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) militias of exerting pressure on his department to appoint politicians aligned with the groups.
“The protesters in Taza district have closed the intercity road linking Kirkuk and Baghdad in protest against the mechanism of recent appointments that the province witnessed,” said the source, who did not specify the specific appointments in question.
He said that dozens of protesters gathered on the road, blocking it for transportation and shipping vehicles.
On the same day as the protest, a bridge of strategic significance because it connects the three major cities of Kirkuk, Erbil reopened.
The Gwer Bridge had been out of commission since it sustained structural damage during fierce fighting against Islamic State militants who had taken control of the area after their 2014 rise in much of the country.
“Three years after it was damaged, today the bridge that is one of the largest in Iraq, is officially opened after its reconstruction,” Masoud Noory, Director of Gwer subdistrict, told the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) news website.
He added, “The bridge will be protected by Peshmerga forces, and today it was opened in coordination and cooperation with Unit 6 of Peshmerga in Gwer. The public can now use it.”