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Friday
Apr082011

US Concerned About Reports of Clashes at Camp Ashraf

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A group of Iranian dissidents living at Camp Ashraf in Iraq says the new Iraqi government has been persecuting them. 

The group, called the MEK, which is classified by the the U.S. State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization is fighting hard to lobby against this distinction, despite having a clear terrorist past as an Iranian militant group opposed to the Islamic regime.

The U.S. State Deparment's acting deputy spokesman Mark Toner blamed the Iraqi government and military Friday for the violence at Camp Ashraf.

"The U.S. Government is deeply troubled by reports of deaths and injuries resulting from this morning's clash at Camp Ashraf.  Although we do not know what exactly transpired early this morning at Ashraf, this crisis and the loss of life was initiated by the Government of Iraq and the Iraqi military," Toner said in a paper statement Friday.

"The U.S. Embassy, United States Forces-Iraq and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq are in regular contact with Iraqi officials at the highest levels to repeatedly urge them to avoid violence and show restraint," he added.  " We reiterate our call for the Iraqi government to live up to its commitments to treat the residents of Ashraf humanely and in accordance with Iraqi law and the international obligations."

Under Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, residents of Camp Ashraf are designated as "protected persons" against forced repatriation to Iran, where imprisonment or execution remain possibilities for the group.

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