Eight Killed as Iraqi Forces Attack MEK Camp North of Baghdad

DM Says Since Camp Is Iraqi Territory, Raid Not Technically "Storming of the Area"

by Jason Ditz, July 28, 2009

Last Updated 7/29 12:21 PM EST

Iraqi forces launched an attack on Camp Ashraf, belonging to the Iranian militant group the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK) sparking clashes with the exiles in the camp. The Iraqi government denied that the troops used any violence during the raid, and Defense Ministry official Maj. Gen. Mohammad al-Askari said that since the incident occurred on sovereign Iraqi territory, nothing they did could constitute “storming of the area.”

Yet Diyala’s governor says at least eight people were killed and nearly 500 wounded in the raid, and videos released by the camp’s inhabitants told showed forces beating people with batons.  They claim US forces witnessed the entire event but did not intervene.

Officially recognized as a Foreign Terror Organization by the US State Department, the militant Socialist faction launched a string of terrorist attacks against US interests in the 1970s, later fighting against the post-revolution Iranian government. The group fled to Iraq in the 1980’s, and remained a close ally of Saddam Hussein’s until the 2003 US invasion.

After the invasion, the group quickly surrendered to the US, and were declared “protected persons” under the Geneva Convention. Since then the group has been funneling documents accusing Iran of working on a nuclear weapon to the US, and has been publicly endorsed by top US officials. Despite having managed to get off the list of terrorist organizations in Britain and the EU however, the group remains so labeled in the US.

Camp Ashraf, the group’s base of operations, was transferred to Iraqi government control on January 1, after getting assurances from the Iraqi government that the group would be treated “humanely.” With the group still working hard to undermine the Iranian government so closely aligned with the Maliki Administration, however, it was likely only a matter of time before Iraq decided to act. The Iranian government, for its part, has cheered the raid.

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