|The Iraqi justice minister says Baghdad is determined to expel members of the terrorist Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) from Camp Ashraf.|
The Iraqi justice minister says Baghdad is determined to expel members of the terrorist Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) from Camp Ashraf. Hassan al-Shammari made the remarks on the sidelines of a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Morteza Bakhtiari in Tehran on Saturday, IRNA reported.
The Iraqi justice minister noted that the decision was made in line with the Iraqi Constitution, which prohibits the presence of any militia group in Iraqi territory. He went on to say that the parliament has voiced support for the move, and at a cabinet meeting, it was decided that the prime minister would oversee the process.
Al-Shammari also said that the MKO members are living in a very bad situation and the leaders of the organization do not allow them to leave the camp. On April 8, a number of people were killed in clashes between Iraqi security forces and MKO members residing at Camp Ashraf, which is located in Diyala province.
The Iraqi army initially said that three people had been killed and 27 wounded, among them 13 members of the security forces. AFP reported that ten people had been killed and over 40 injured.
A source at Baqouba's main hospital confirmed they had received three bodies. However, the MKO claimed that 31 of its members had been killed and 300 were injured. But Iraqi forces say there is evidence that some of the MKO members who died in the incident were killed by MKO members themselves.
On April 11, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the cabinet was determined to shut the camp down. The MKO fled to Iraq in the 1980s, where it enjoyed the support of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and set up Camp Ashraf in the eastern province of Diyala, near the Iranian border.
Over 3,000 MKO members are currently residing at the camp. In addition, the group sends elements to Iran on spying and terrorist missions. The MKO also cooperated with Saddam in the massacres of Iraqi Kurds and in suppressing the 1991 uprisings in southern Iraq.
Since Saddam was deposed in 2003, the Iraqi government has set numerous deadlines for the terrorist group to leave the country but the MKO has managed to maintain its base due to US backing. The MKO is listed as a terrorist organization by much of the international community and has committed numerous terrorist acts against both Iranians and Iraqis.
Iran has repeatedly called on the Iraqi government to expel the group, but the US has been putting pressure on the Iraqi government to block the expulsion.