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PMOI relocation voluntary, Iraq says

Dec. 15, 2009 at 12:46 PM   |   Comments

BAGHDAD, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Iranian dissidents at Camp Ashraf in Iraq's Diyala province can transfer to another facility on a voluntary basis, Iraqi military officials said Tuesday.

Iraqi government officials last week said members of the People's Mujahedin of Iran had until Tuesday to leave their Camp Ashraf enclave or face possible deportation to Iran.

Baghdad plans to relocate the PMOI first to Baghdad and then to another facility in the south of the country.

Iraqi Brig. Bassel Hamad told the Voices of Iraq news agency that national forces would not forcibly expel the 3,000 or so members of the PMOI from their camp.

"The transfer will be voluntary," he said. "The residents will have the option to move out or to stay inside the camp."

He added that if the residents defied government efforts to close Camp Ashraf, Baghdad would "find suitable solutions for this."

The PMOI is listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and Iraqi governments for its violent opposition to the clerical regime in Iran. The group surrendered its weapons to the U.S. military shortly after the 2003 invasion of Iraq and now claims its policy is based on peaceful opposition to Iran.

The U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq called on all parties to negotiate to find a resolution that was in line with Iraq's sovereignty rights and international law.

The United Nations added it was committed to monitoring the situation at Camp Ashraf "on a daily basis."

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