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U.S. drafts new plan for Iranian camp Ashraf in Iraq

The United States has drawn up a new plan for an Iranian dissident camp in Iraq, calling for its residents to be temporarily moved to a new location in Iraq pending eventual resettlement in third countries.

A senior State Department official said on Thursday the plan was aimed at preventing more violence at Camp Ashraf, where 34 people were killed last month after Iraqi security forces moved against it.

"We recognize that this is a humanitarian tragedy that is occurring and has great potential to be a humanitarian issue into the future," the official said on condition of anonymity.

"Given the history of provocation, we are deeply concerned about the possibility of future violence."

The official said the Iraqi government was studying the new U.S. plan, which would now be presented to the leaders of Camp Ashraf, the base of the People’s Mujahideen Organization of Iran which the United States, Iraq and Iran consider a terrorist organization. The European Union removed it from its terrorism blacklist in 2009.

The group, seeking the overthrow of Iran’s Islamic government, mounted attacks on Iran from Iraq before Saddam Hussein’s 2003 downfall. In the 1970s, it led a guerrilla campaign against the U.S.-backed Shah of Iran, including attacks on U.S. targets.

The 3,400 people in Camp Ashraf lack any formal status in Iraq, where the government has vowed to close the camp by the end of 2011.

Reporting by Andrew Quinn; editing by Doina Chiacu

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