Countdown for MKO departure

Iraq has warned that the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) has outstayed its welcome in the country and is obliged to pack its bags. "The residents should understand ... that their days in Iraq are numbered and we are literally counting down," al-Rubaie

Iraqi National Security Advisor Mowaffaq al-Rubaie said at a Friday news conference that the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) had to leave Iraq soon but did not give any time-frame for the relocation.

“The residents should understand … that their days in Iraq are numbered and we are literally counting down,” al-Rubaie told reporters.

He, however, said that the Iraqi government would not appeal to force if the group obides by the departure regulations in a non-forcible way.

“We will not use force … unless the residents use force against the Iraqi security forces. This whole process will be pain-free if they cooperate.”

Baghdad holds the anti-Iran MKO responsible for destabilizing Iraq through its terror attacks.

The Iraqi government took control of the group’s military training grounds in Camp Ashraf from the US in January.

The official on Friday did not identify where the group would be moved to but the al-Bayyina al-Jadida daily reported that Iraq was in talks with Australia to find an alternative place for the group.

Iraqi sources revealed in February that several countries were considering granting entry permission to certain members of the terrorist group.

Egypt, they said, had agreed with a request by MKO leaders to establish a camp in the country.

In a Saturday statement, the MKO members reacted angrily to plans by Baghdad for their resettlement and called the demand “absolutely illegal”.

The MKO, blacklisted as a terrorist organization by many international entities and countries, including the US, is responsible for numerous acts of violence against Iranian civilians and government officials as well as Iraqis during the rein of former dictator Saddam Hussein.

The group was exiled from Iran after the Islamic Revolution and settled in Iraq in 1986, where it enjoyed the support of Saddam.

Tehran has long called for the expulsion of MKO members from Iraq. Tehran says the members of the group who have not participated in terrorist activities can return home but others will need to stand trial.

Some MKO members have defected from the organization and have returned to Iran.

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