23 reported killed; US asks help to relocate residents
WASHINGTON, D.C.: US top diplomat John Kerry condemned an attack Thursday on a base that houses exiled Iranian opposition members on the outskirts of Baghdad, calling Thursday for the international community to help relocate its residents.
At least 15 missiles targeted Camp Liberty, a former US military base near Baghdad’s international airport that houses members of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, an opposition group that has been exiled since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
A spokesman for the Mujahedin said the attack was the worst to have targeted the camp so far, and claimed that several people were killed but could not say how many.
“The United States strongly condemns today’s brutal, senseless terrorist attack on Camp Hurriya that killed and injured camp residents,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement, using an alternate name for the camp.
“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 Hurriya residents to a permanent and safe location outside of Iraq,” he said.
“We call on more countries to assist in responding to this urgent humanitarian situation by welcoming camp residents for relocation and by contributing to the fund established by the United Nations to support their resettlement,” he added.
Meanwhile, a Paris based organization, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, said in a statement that 23 people had died in the attack and that dozens more were injured, including 22 who were seriously hurt.
A representative from the group, Afchine Alavi, said all told, some 80 rockets landed at the camp.
The Mujahedin sided with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq during the war with Iran in the 1980s but the 2003 US-led invasion brought leaders with ties to Tehran to power.
The Mujahedin were moved to Camp Liberty after the 2011 US withdrawal.
“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,” Kerry said, adding that the United States was in contact with the government for more details on the attack.
“Our condolences go out to the families of the victims, and we hope for the swift recovery of those injured,” he said.