19 killed in military operation on Iranian exile camp in eastern Iraq

2013-09-01 09:17:57 GMT2013-09-01 17:17:57(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

BAQUBA, Iraq, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi security forces carried out a military operation on an Iranian opposition camp in the eastern province of Diyala, killing 19 and wounding some 30 others, local media and the opposition group said on Sunday.

The Iraqi army backed by Special Weapons And Tactics, or SWAT, raided at dawn Ashraf Camp where members of People's Mujahideen Organization of Iran (PMOI) reside, killing 19 and wounding some 30 others," NINA news agency quoted a source in the camp as saying.

The Iraqi troops began the attack by an hour-long mortar barrage before they stormed the partially deserted camp near the provincial capital city of Baquba, some 65 km northeast of Baghdad, it said.

Only some 100 PMOI members remain in Camp Ashraf after more than 3,000 others have transferred to a former U.S. air base near Baghdad's airport.

Later in the day, the PMOI confirmed the attack and said that 19 of its members, including two leading figures, were killed, dozens were wounded, and some others arrested by Iraqi troops.

"The Iranian resistance calls for immediate dispatch of delegations from the United States and the UN to Ashraf to prevent continuation of the massacre," PMOI said in an on-line statement.

In late 2011, the Iraqi government and the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq struck a deal to move the camp residents to Baghdad temporarily until the UN High Commissioner for Refugees gets them resettled in a third country.

PMOI, also known as Mujahideen Khalq Organization, is a self- claimed Marxist and Islamic movement. It was founded in 1965 in opposition to the shah of Iran and subsequently fought to oust the Islamic government which took power in the 1979 revolution. The group fled to Iraq in 1986, and set up Ashraf Camp near the Iranian border.

After the PMOI fighters were disarmed following the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the camp remained under the protection of the U. S. military police for five years before the Iraqi government took over the security responsibility.

Ties between the Shiite Muslim country of Iran and the Shiite- dominated government of Iraq have picked up considerably since the ouster of Saddam Hussein's Sunni-dominated regime by the 2003 U.S.- led invasion.

Iraq and Iran fought a bloody eight-year war in the 1980s, resulting in about one million deaths.

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