Iraqi authorities said six Iranians died in the past two days during clashes with Iraqi security forces at a camp north of Baghdad made up of an exiled Iranian opposition group. A government spokesman said violence erupted when security forces tried to set up a police station in Ashraf camp, in Iraq’s northern Diyala province. Residents of the camp, however, said they feared being extradited to Iran.
35 people were arrested from the camp and several hundreds were reportedly wounded in the violence.
About 3,500 Iranians live in the camp that has housed the People’s Mujahadin of Iran (PMOI) since 1980 when they were welcomed by then-President Saddam Hussein who was fighting a war against Iran.
On Wednesday, Iranian Parliament Speak Ali Larijani praised the assault on the camp. Iran’s state-run Fars news agency quoted Larijani as saying, “Although this measure was taken late by Iraq, it is admirable that they have decided to clear Iraq from terrorists.”
US officials, however, expressed concerns over the raid. “It's a sovereign matter for the government of Iraq and it's up to them to resolve this," one US official in Washington said on Wednesday. “But we would have preferred it be handled differently. The outcome wasn't good and we're not happy about that.”
On Wednesday, the Iraqi government announced it plans to close the camp.