Iran, Iraq to shut down Camp Ashraf: Talabani

Tehran and Baghdad have formed a joint committee with the Red Cross to shut down Camp Ashraf in Iraq which houses thousands of outlawed Iranian opponents, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said.

Last Updated: Jun 26, 2011, 00:46 AM IST

Tehran: Tehran and Baghdad have formed a
joint committee with the Red Cross to shut down Camp Ashraf in
Iraq which houses thousands of outlawed Iranian opponents,
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said on Saturday.

"The camp will be shut down by the end of this year,"
Talabani said on the sidelines of a counter-terrorism summit
in Tehran, the official IRNA news agency reported.

"For this, a tripartite committee has been set up by
Iraq, Iran and the International Red Cross to make decisions
and follow up on necessary measures to shut down the camp of
this terrorist group," IRNA quoted him as saying.

The People`s Mujahedeen set up Camp Ashraf in the
1980s -- when now-executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein`s
regime was at war with Iran -- as a base from which to operate
against Tehran.

It is home to some 3,400 people.

The group, which describes itself as both left-wing
and Islamic, opposed the Shah of Iran and now seeks to oust
the clerical regime that took power in Tehran in the 1979
revolution.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari proposed during
a visit Tuesday to Tehran the formation of a tripartite
committee to "resolve the issues of Camp Ashraf."

"We have asked international organisations and
European parliaments to encourage the (group`s) members to
leave Iraq, and to facilitate (the movement of) those members
who seek to go those countries," Zebari said.

The announcement was met with a "vigorous"
condemnation by the National Council of Resistance of Iran,
the broad grouping that includes the People`s Mujahedeen.

The NCRI said that allowing the Iranian regime to
"interfere in the issue of Ashraf is a red line that should
not be crossed," and called on the ICRC "not to lose
credibility by participating in this plan of repression."

"The UN and the US government must take responsibility
to protect the unarmed and defenceless people at Ashraf, and
they will be held responsible for any attack that will target
them," the NCRI warned in a statement.

Camp Ashraf has become a mounting problem for Iraqi
authorities since US forces handed over security for the camp
in January 2009, and amid pressure from Tehran to hand over
the members of the militant group.

On April 8, Iraqi security forces carried out a deadly
raid on the camp, inside Iraq and near the border with Iran,
killing 34 members of the group.

PTI