Deadline Set For Iranian Dissidents To Leave Iraq

The Iraqi government has set the deadline for members of Iranian dissident group being housed at Camp Ashraf in Diyala province to leave the country, stressing that they will be removed from the country by the deadline using "all means" available.

"The council of ministers has committed to implement an earlier decision about disbanding the terrorist group People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI), by the end of this year at the latest, and the necessity of getting it out of Iraq," Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said late Monday. "They need to leave Iraq by the end of the year. Iraq is not the choice for them,"

Indicating that the Iraqi government was "taking into consideration the wish of the PMOI members to choose the country in which they wish to reside," Dabbagh added: "We have to find a nation where they can go, and we will look to the U.N. to help."

Dabbagh also declared that the Iranian dissidents would be expelled from the country "by using all means, including political, diplomatic, and co-operation with the United Nations and international organizations."

The development comes days after violent clashes erupted at Camp Ashraf last Friday after Iraqi security forces raided the camp after its occupants allegedly threw rocks at the security forces during a "riot."

Iraqi government said later that three people were killed in the raid and denied allegations that its troops had opened fire at the occupants of the camp during the raid. But the PMOI alleges that Friday’s military operation at the camp killed at least 34 people and left more than 300 others injured.[..]

The Iraqi government has since announced that it has launched an investigation "to look into the real details of the operation, to know how many people exactly were killed, the reasons for the deaths and the date of the deaths".

Camp Ashraf, located in Diyala province to the north of Baghdad, has served as a refugee base for members of the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), an exiled Iranian opposition group, for almost two decades.

The PMOI was founded in 1965 to oppose the Shah of Iran, but the group later turned against Iran’s regime that ousted the Shah in the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Camp Ashraf was opened in the 1980s after then-President Saddam Hussein allowed the PMOI to set up bases in Iraq. Saddam also armed the group’s military wing, the National Liberation Army of Iran, to fight along side Iraq troops in the 1980-88 war against Iran.

The U.S. troops disarmed the PMOI fighters in 2003 and confined the nearly 3100 residents to the camp. The U.S. military placed the camp’s residents under its protection, before Iraqi forces took over its security from the U.S. earlier this year.

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