Iraq to take over security control at Iranian opposition camp

The Iraqi government will take over security responsibility for Iranian opposition Camp Ashraf on Jan. 1 when the U.S.-Iraqi security pact comes into force, a U.S. embassy statement said on Monday.

"With the end of the UNSCR mandate for the Coalition Forces in Iraq, the Government of Iraq will assume security responsibility for Camp Ashraf and its residents as of Jan. 1, 2009," the statement said.

The statement also clarified that a U.S. force will maintain presence in the Camp which is located in Diala province in northeast of Baghdad and hosts an Iranian opposition group of Mojahedin Khalq.

It said that the U.S. troops "will continue to assist the Government of Iraq in carrying out its assurances of humane treatment of the residents of Camp Ashraf."

"The U.S. Government and Government of Iraq will work with appropriate international organizations to assist the camp residents in securing a safe future."

Camp Ashraf contains more than 3,000 Iranians from the Mojahedin Khalq opponents and their families. The Iranian organization had been used by former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s regime to fight the neighboring Shiite state of Iran.

After the U.S.-led invasion, the U.S. troops disarmed the organization fighters and since then, the camp became under the U.S. military police protection for five years.

The Shiite-dominated Iraqi government repeatedly demands Mojahedin Khalq people to be removed from the country.

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