Yunessi: Iran's Armed Opposition Attacks Will Receive ‘Fitting Reply’
Mortar attacks by Iran's exiled-armed opposition, the People's Mujahedeen, in western Iran will receive a fitting reply, Iranian Intelligence Minister Ali Yunessi was quoted as saying by a Sunday newspaper.
The Tehran Times paper also claimed that the Iraq-based Mujahadeen had stepped up its attacks after a meeting with the US Central Intelligence agency.
The Mujahedeen "fired 18 mortar shells in Kermanshah province early Friday," the paper said.
More attacks early Saturday targeted Dehloran in Ilam province and Shalamcheh, Khuzestan province, the conservative English-language paper said.
It quoted Yunessi as saying Friday that the People's Mujahedeen, known in Iran as the MKO, would "receive a fitting reply."
"We will retaliate for the terrorist attacks of the MKO against our innocent people," he said, while adding, "the retaliation will be carried out by the Iraqi people."
The daily cited an "informed source" as saying that the Mujahedeen had "intensified its terrorist activities against Iran only after a recent secret meeting between some of its ringleaders with CIA agents in the United States."
"Although the MKO is on the US State Department's terrorist list, its offices are only a few steps away from the White House," the paper said, citing an analyst charging that the "US attitude towards the MKO is ambivalent."
According to the source, the Mujahedeen "receives help from Washington and renders services to the United States."
However, it said Iraq's role was "equally important" in the attacks, calling on Baghdad "not to allow the MKO to conduct terrorist activities against Iran," and noting that Iraq needed a "rapprochement with Iran to rejoin the international community."
On Saturday, the exiled armed opposition group said its forces repulsed an attack by three battalions of Iran's 23rd Airborne Division, supported by Cobra attack helicopters, who crossed the border to engage them on Iraqi territory.
In a statement received by AFP in Nicosia, a Mujahedeen spokesman said three fighters with the group's Iraqi-based National Liberation Army (NLA) were killed by heavy artillery fire from the advancing Iranians, while "hundreds" of Iranian troops were killed or wounded in 10 hours of intense fighting.
He said the NLA fired 1,000 mortar shells and "tens of thousands of bullets" to repulse the Iranian drive.
The Mujahedeen's presence in Iraq is a major stumbling block to the restoration of relations between Iran and Iraq, which fought a bloody eight-year war in the 1980s -- TEHRAN (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)