Iranian opposition group denounces Iraqi attack on camp

PARIS - The main Iranian opposition group in exile on Tuesday denounced an Iraqi operation against a camp housing thousands of its supporters, accusing Baghdad of acting on the orders of Tehran.
A spokesman for the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which includes the armed group the People's Mujahedeen of Iran, called the raid "a crime at the request of and for the pleasure of the Iranian supreme guide.

Iranian opposition group denounces Iraqi attack on camp
"There's an extreme similarity, and it's no coincidence, between the Iraqi regime's use of violence and the repression in Iran. It's two sides of the same reality," said Afchine Alavi, a French-based NCRI spokesman.
"Everyone knows that the face of the Supreme Guide Khamenei is behind this. He's trying to cling onto power and he's never hidden his fear of the People's Mujahedeen," he declared.
The supreme leader of Iran is the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whom Iranian exiles allege has pressured Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government into taking action against their base in the central Iraqi town of Ashraf.
Iraqi police stormed the camp on Tuesday in an operation which left at least 260 people injured. Alavi said that six people had been shot dead by Iraqi forces and 50 more arrested.
Iraqi authorities have so far denied that there were any deaths, but they have confirmed 50 arrests. Spokesmen for both sides confirm that Iraqi forces are now largely in control of the camp.
Alavi told AFP the camp's residents had launched a hunger strike to demand that Iraqi troops be withdrawn and replaced by the American forces "who disarmed the people of Ashraf and guaranteed their humanitarian rights."
Ashraf is home to around 3,500 Mujahedeen supporters and their families. It was set up in the 1980s, when now executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was at war with Iran, as a base to operate against the Iranian government.
After the US-led invasion of 2003 overthrew Saddam, American forces disarmed the Iranian opposition fighters -- whose group is regarded by Washington as a terrorist organisation -- but gave the Ashraf camp protected status.
Since then, however, Maliki's government has reasserted Iraqi authority on the issue, and Washington has said it is merely monitoring the situation.

Wednesday, July 29th 2009

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