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Iran-backed militias accused of reign of fear in Iraqi Basra

Hajar Youssif was on her daily commute to work, staring at her phone and flicking through her Instagram account when she looked up to find herself in an unusual location. The taxi driver had turned into an alley.

When she questioned the driver, he sped up.

"I started to feel uneasy and knew that something bad was going to happen," said the 24-year-old office administrator, who had taken part in protests over lack of clean water, frequent power cuts and soaring unemployment in her hometown of Basra, Iraq's oil capital and main port.

She yelled and tried to open the door, but the driver had locked it. The taxi swerved into a courtyard where three masked men...