Published June 22, 2013
BAGHDAD (AFP) – Seventy-one members of an exiled Iranian opposition group based at a camp near Baghdad have been relocated to Albania, the UN said Saturday, a week after the camp suffered deadly mortar attacks.
The resettlement is the latest in protracted efforts by the UN to move the around 3,000 members of the former rebel People's Mujahedeen at Camp Liberty, on Baghdad's outskirts, outside of Iraq.
"A total of 71 men and women now have safely arrived in Albania and have benefited from the government of Albania's offer to accept 210 of the camp's residents," UN special envoy to Iraq Martin Kobler said in a statement.
Kobler said that Germany had also offered to accept around 100 residents, and added that the deadly attack on Camp Liberty a week ago had "once again shown how important it is to relocate the residents to third countries as quickly as possible."
On June 15, two camp residents were killed by a series of mortar rounds which hit Camp Liberty, a former American military base that now houses the Iranian exiles, in the second such attack this year.
At Iraq's insistence, the exiles were moved to Camp Liberty late last year from Camp Ashraf, near the Iranian border, where the People's Mujahedeen set up base in the 1980s.
Ashraf was the base that now-executed dictator Saddam Hussein allowed the group to establish in Diyala province during Iraq's eight-year war with Iran.
The People's Mujahedeen was founded in the 1960s to oppose the shah of Iran, and after the 1979 Islamic revolution that ousted him it took up arms against Iran's clerical rulers.
It says it has now laid down its weapons and is working to overthrow the Islamic regime in Iran by peaceful means.
Britain struck the group off its terror blacklist in June 2008, followed by the European Union as a whole in 2009 and the United States in September last year.