Iraqi government troops have ordered Shi’ite militias to stay back from the front lines to reduce hostility from villagers as they advance into Sunni areas held by Islamic State fighters.

The Shi’ite militias played an important role halting the dramatic advance by Islamic State fighters through northern Iraq in June, when Iraq’s army crumbled. Since then they have received the endorsement of the government.

But their presence frightens and angers many Sunnis who believe they have carried out killings and kidnappings with impunity, which the militias deny. […]