Iraqi Government takes Control of Camp Ashraf in 2nd Day of Fighting

AFP says that fighting went on for a second day on Wednesday inside the Camp Ashraf compound of the Mojahedin-e Khalq (People’s Holy Warriors or MEK) between Iraqi security forces and camp residents. The Iraqi government is reportedly saying that the camp had been secured by late Wednesday.

The some 3000 Iranians in the camp had originally come there in the 1980s to fight Iran and undertake destabilizing operations against it during the Iran-Iraq War, since they opposed the clerical government of Ayatollah Khomeini. Others came later, in the Saddam period, to harass and spy on Iran. For more background, see this this NYT article.

Although the guerrillas charge that Iraqi troops had killed 7 camp residents in the clashes on Tuesday, the Iraqi government denied that there had been any deaths. Dozens and even hundreds of residents are said to have been wounded, and two Iraqi policemen are dead. Update: The Iraqi government is now acknowledging that 7 MEK members were killed in the assault on Camp Ashraf.

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that about 1,000 Iraqi security personnel entered the camp on Tuesday, after the MEK authorities had refused to allow any Iraqi police inside the camp. It quotes official Iranian Iraqi government spokesman Ali Dabbagh, who complained that press coverage had spoken of an Iraqi “assault” on the camp. He said that it is nonsense to talk of Iraqi security forces assaulting the camp, since it was on GOI premises. The Iraqi government is complaining that stone-throwing camp residents injured 25 actived-duty policemen in thea action.

Here is an MEK video clip of government forces, including an armored vehicle, attacking camp residents

Muhsin al-Hakim, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) spokesman in Tehran, said that based on the letters sent to him, there is a substantial number of Mojahedin who want to return to Iran if they can be assured that they will not be prosecuted. Al-Hakim is the son of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, leader of ISCI inside Iraq, and it is quite odd that he has become a spokesman for the MEK’s desires.

The USG Open Source Center translates the comments on the Camp Ashraf events by hard line speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani:

‘Iran Speaker Praises Iraq For Taking Action Against MKO’s Ashraf Camp
Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Network 1
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Document Type: OSC Translated Excerpt

(Presenter) After (several) years, the army of Iraq has gained control over the camp of the terrorist grouplet Monafeqin [the Iranian regime calls them “hypocrites”/ Munafiqin instead of Holy Warriors/ Mojahedin], which is called Ashraf camp in Diyala province, by entering this military camp of Monafeqin. The American Department of State has implicitly expressed concerns over the Iraqi forces’ entry into the Monafeqin’s camp and has said that Washington will closely watch the situation. . .

(Reporter) The Speaker of the Islamic Majles also described the Iraqi government’s action in taking control over the Monafeqin’s camp as late but praiseworthy.

(Larijani) Now after the Monafeqin worked as mercenaries of Saddam’s regime for years, we were informed yesterday that the government of Iraq had attacked Ashraf camp. You have heard the yells and screams of the leader of the Monafeqin through the media. Although the Iraqi government took this action very late, their decision to clear the land of Iraq from the dirt of the existence of terrorists, deserves appreciation.

(Description of Source: Tehran Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Network 1 in Persian — state-run television)’

Aljazeera English has video of the Iraqi police beating civilians at Camp Ashraf:

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