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Camp Ashraf raid
Part of Iraq War
Ashraf2.JPG
Gated entrance to Camp Ashraf
Type Military raid
Location Camp Ashraf, Iraq
Target Mujahedin-e Khalq
Date April 8, 2011 (2011-04-08)
04:45 (UTC+3)
Executed by  Iraq
Casualties 34 killed
318 injured

The Camp Ashraf raid[1][2] was carried out by the Iraqi Army on April 8, 2011 in Camp Ashraf against the Iranian opposition group, the People's Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI or MKO), which has been designated as a terrorist organisation by Iraq and Iran.[3] A total of 34 people were killed and 318 injured. The attack was denounced as a "massacre" by PMOI leader Maryam Rajavi[4] and U.S. Senator John Kerry.[5]

Background[edit | edit source]

Camp Ashraf is located northeast of the Iraqi town of Khalis, about 120 kilometers west of the Iranian border and 60 kilometers north of Baghdad, and is the seat of the PMOI. The PMOI is designated as a terrorist group organization by both Iran and Iraq, although it has been removed as designated terrorist organization by the United States and European Union.[4] The PMOI was welcomed into Iraq in the 1980s by then-President Saddam Hussein who funded and armed the group, which fought alongside Iraqi forces during the Iran-Iraq War[3] and later helped Saddam Hussein suppress the 1991 uprisings in Iraq.[6]

Following the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, U.S. troops took control of Camp Ashraf and disarmed its fighters. In return, the U.S. military signed an agreement which provided the camp's 3,400 residents protected status under the Geneva Conventions.[7]

In 2009, the U.S. military handed over control to the Shi'a dominated Iraqi government, which has repeatedly vowed to close the camp as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has reportedly been trying to bolster his country's ties with Iran.[3][7]

The Iraqi Army has raided Camp Ashraf prior to the April 2011 attack. In July 2009, Iraqi security forces entered the camp, killing at least nine people and injuring some 400 people.[8]

Raid[edit | edit source]

Prior to the raid, tensions had been building between the Iraq army and Ashraf residents, who feared an impending attack as soldiers built up their forces outside the camp. The Iraqi general, Ali Ghaidan Majid, who led the raid stated it was in response to Ashraf residents tossing rocks at his troops and throwing themselves in front of military vehicles.[7]

Following the raid, which left 34 dead, the PMOI released footage filmed and edited by members of the group, which show Iraqi soldiers firing at unarmed civilians at Camp Ashraf, and using military vehicles to herd and run down crowds of people. Iraqi authorities, on the other hand, claimed that only three people were killed resisting a military operation to return land from camp residents to farmers.[4] Among the confirmed victims of the raid was Saba Haftbaradaran.[9][10]

Reactions[edit | edit source]

  •  Iraq – Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh released a statement in which he said that "This organisation [the MKO] must be removed from Iraqi territory by all means, including political and diplomatic, with the co-operation of the UN and international organisations."[3]
  •  UN – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay condemned the Iraqi military operation and called for a long-term solution to Camp Ashraf's residents: "There is no possible excuse for this number of casualties. There must be a full, independent and transparent inquiry, and any person found responsible for use of excessive force should be prosecuted... "I am well aware that this is a contentious group [the PMOI], with a complicated history, but leaving them to fester in Camp Ashraf was never going to be a solution."[11]
  •  US – U.S. Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, condemned the raid as a "massacre" and stated the situation at Camp Ashraf was "untenable": "United Nations confirmation of the scope of last week’s tragedy at Camp Ashraf is deeply disturbing and the Iraqi military action is simply unacceptable. Corrective action is imperative. First, the Iraqis must stop the bleeding and refrain from any further military action against Camp Ashraf. Second, the Iraqi government has announced a full investigation into the massacre and it must be thorough and serious."[5]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Iraq raid on Iranian exiles' Camp Ashraf 'killed 34'". 14 April 2011. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-13087538. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 David Jolly (13 April 2011). "Iranian Group Seeks U.S. Shield After Iraqi Raid". http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/14/world/middleeast/14iht-iran14.html. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Kerry condemns Iraqi military for violence at Camp Ashraf". 14 April 2011. http://www.boston.com/news/politics/politicalintelligence/2011/04/kerry_condems_i.html. Retrieved 9 May 2011. 
  6. The Cult of Rajavi
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Frank Jordans and Lara Jakes (14 April 2011). "UN: 34 killed in Iraqi raid on Iranian exile camp". http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42589699/ns/world_news-mideast/n_africa/t/un-killed-iraqi-raid-iranian-exile-camp/. Retrieved 8 May 2011. [dead link]
  8. Kate Allen (14 April 2011). "Camp Ashraf is a barometer of Iraq's human rights". http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/apr/14/camp-ashraf-iraq-human-rights. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  9. EU calls for international observers to probe clashes in Camp Ashraf - Reporters Without Borders. En.rsf.org. Retrieved 25 May 2012.
  10. US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations: Press Room - Chairman's Press. Foreign.senate.gov (14 April 2011).
  11. "Pillay condemns Iraqi operation that led to 34 deaths, calls for inquiry". Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. United Nations. 15 April 2011. http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=10943&LangID=E. Retrieved 9 May 2011. 

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