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U.S. gives MeK members protected status

WASHINGTON, July 26 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department confirmed Monday it had provided an Iranian rebel group labeled a foreign terrorist organization protected status in Iraq.

Nearly 4,000 members of the Mujahedin e Khalq, an Iranian opposition group that operated out of Saddam Hussein's Iraq and which is on the State Department's terrorist list, have been granted protected person status by the U.S. military, department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said.

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They are now in custody at Camp Ashraf, Iraq.

"I would note that this means that an individual who enjoys protected person status is entitled to protections of the Geneva Conventions," he said. "There aren't any other connotations to this designation."

He added the designation applied to individuals not groups and insisted the status was related only to their role in the conflict between the coalition and Iraq.

"So it was determined that they were not belligerents and therefore, as non-belligerents, fall into this category with respect to the conflict with Iraq," he said.

He said the MeK continues to be a designated foreign terrorist organization.

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