A group of al-Khafaji tribe members protest in Basra.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Members of the al-Khafaji tribe in the southern Iraqi city of Basra took to the streets on Sunday to protest the detention of a Hashd al-Shaabi commander who has been thrown in jail for allegedly running "fake" checkpoints.
"The detention of Sheikh Aws means the detention of all the members of al-Khafaji tribe, and we call on the party, which detained him, to disclose his whereabouts," said Sheikh Adil al-Khafaji, one of the leaders of the tribe.
Sheikh al-Khafaji threatened that unless the government and security authorities disclose the location of Sheikh Awas members of the tribe—armed and members of the Hashd—will block major roads in Basra and shut Iraq’s borders.
The Hashd's Security Department claimed in a statement that they had arrested the Khafaji Sheikh for setting up and running "fake" military bases and checkpoints.
“This measure was taken following a meeting between the security [directorate] of Hashd with the al-Karrada municipality and the security forces so as to close bases pretending to be affiliated with Hashd al-Shaabi,” read the Hashd statement.
Al-Khafaji, the secretary-general of the Abo al-Fadhl al-Abbas Brigade, was detained on late Thursday after accusing Hashd militants for killing his cousin, Alaa Mushthoub - novelist who has been known for his criticism of Iran.
Mushthoub was slayed last week in Karbala.