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U.S. Condemns Deadly Attack Against Exiled Iranian Opposition Group In Iraq

A barrage of rockets slammed into a former military base near the Baghdad International Airport, killing at least 26.
A barrage of rockets slammed into a former military base near the Baghdad International Airport, killing at least 26.

The United States has condemned a rocket attack outside Baghdad that killed at least 23 Iranian opposition members and Iraqi soldiers and urged Iraq to pursue those responsible.

Iraqi police said about 15 rockets hit Camp Liberty, a former U.S. base near Baghdad International Airport that now houses the exiled Iranian opposition group known as the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO).

"The United States strongly condemns today's brutal, senseless terrorist attack," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said afterward. "We have been in touch with senior Iraqi officials to ensure that the government of Iraq renders all possible medical and emergency assistance to the victims."

The October 29 attack killed three Iraqi soldiers and at least 23 members of the exile group, which seeks the overthrew of Iran's clerical leaders.

Wathiq al-Battat, the commander of Iraq's Shi'ite Al-Mukhtar Army militia, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Battat, whose group says it is sponsored by Iran, said Al-Mukhtar had warned the MKO "to leave Iraq as soon as possible" and that if they didn't, "there will be more similar attacks."

The Katyusha rockets were fired from the Bakriya neighborhood, about 6 kilometers northeast of the airport, joint operations command spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Rasul said.

Kerry urged Iraq to increase security at the camp, which has been hit many times before, and pursue those responsible for the "unprovoked attack."

"No matter the circumstances, on this point we remain absolute: The United States remains committed to assisting the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in the relocation of all [Camp Liberty] residents to a permanent and safe location outside of Iraq," Kerry said.

Members of the MKO were welcomed into Iraq by Saddam Hussein in the 1980s during the brutal war with neighboring Iran. Their fortunes turned sharply with the Iraqi dictator's toppling in the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Iraq's current Shi'ite-led government, which has strong ties with Tehran, considers their presence in the country illegal.

The group regularly reports worsening health conditions within their isolated camp and accuses the Iraqi government of neglect and human rights abuses.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP
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