The Iraqi government has denied that any members of an anti-Iranian terrorist group were killed during a Tuesday raid on its base in northern Baghdad.
|Iraqi police vehicles block one of the entrances leading to Camp Ashraf in northern Baghdad.|
Earlier reports said between four to eight residents had been killed when Iraqi security forces stormed Camp Ashraf – the base of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MKO).
“This morning’s report is that there was not a single death among the MKO,” government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said. “The police have an order not to use any live rounds.”
AFP quoted a police officer as saying that clashes resumed on Wednesday between Iraqi police and the residents of the camp, which lies in Diyala Province northeast of Baghdad.
An Iraqi police official said on Tuesday that about 50 of the camp’s residents had been detained.
Seyyed Mohsen Hakim, a member of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, was quoted by ISNA as saying many of the camp’s 3,500 residents have called for their return to Iran, adding that Tehran and Baghdad are discussing the issue.
Militants had fiercely resisted Iraqi forces who called in security personnel to quell the violence that led to the deaths of two Iraqi soldiers and injured 110 members of the Iraqi security forces.
Some 400 militants were also wounded in the Tuesday operation, which came after months of tense standoff around the base.
Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani welcomed the ‘cleansing of the Iraqi territory from terrorists’ and described the move as ‘praiseworthy, albeit late’.
Iraq’s Defense Ministry said the offensive was justified under the long-term security agreement signed by Baghdad and Washington in November, under which Iraq assumed responsibility for the camp three months ago.
“It’s our territory and it’s our right to enter, to impose Iraqi law on everybody. They (camp residents) have to submit to the law, and to Iraqi sovereignty,” said Defense Ministry spokesman General Mohammed Askari.
The Mujahedeen-e Khalq Organization was founded in Iran in the 1960s, but its top leadership and members fled the country in the 1980s after assassinating a number of prominent political and religious figures and carrying out bombings that claimed scores of lives.
Along with Iran, the United States, Canada and Iraq have designated the MKO as a terrorist organization.