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Iraq to close border crossing point due to Sunni protests


BAGHDAD, (Xinhua): Iraq on Tuesday said it will block a vital border crossing point with neighboring Jordan due to the ongoing anti-government Sunni protests, an official Iraqi television reported.

"The Ministry of Defense decided to close the Trebil border crossing with Jordan starting from 6:00 a.m. Wednesday because of the disorder of trade movement due to demonstrations (in Anbar province) on the international road," the state-run Iraqia channel said, without giving further details about when the border crossing will be opened.

Thousands of anti-government protestors have been taken in several cities of Anbar province in western Iraq, including a major rally and sit-in on the highway near the provincial capital city of Ramadi, some 100 km west of the capital Baghdad.

However, a source in Anbar provincial council told Xinhua that the closure of the highway by the protesters was only symbolic and that the government move was part of pressures on the people of Anbar province to halt their protests.

"This is part of pressures by the government because the highway leads to Trebil border crossing, actually, is not blocked. The vehicles are using a nearby alternative road at Albu-Farraj area in west of Ramadi," the source said on condition of anonymity.

Anbar protests, which first began on Dec. 23, swiftly spread to cities in the Sunni provinces of Nineveh, Kirkuk, Salahudin and Diyala, as well as in Baghdad's Sunni district of Azamiya.

The Sunni protesters complained about injustice, marginalization, discrimination, double standards and politicization of the judicial system. They also accused Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of using judiciary to fight his political opponents in order to legally tame the opposition in the political process.

They said the Shiite-led Iraqi security forces were indiscriminately arresting their sons and torture them, and accused them of arresting women instead of their wanted male family members.

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