More MKO members defect to Iraq

Baghdad, July 01: Four more members of the anti-Iran terrorist Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) have fled Camp Ashraf and defected to the Iraqi forces, a senior Iraqi official says.

Iraq’s Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammed al-Askari said in a news conference on Thursday that the MKO defectors have escaped from the camp in Diyala province 60km north of Baghdad, a Media correspondent reported.

“The Iraqi government has announced in many occasions that the remaining the camp inside the country is not an option, and we will do our best to evacuate the camp in the near future,” al-Askari added.

The defected MKO members said that since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the leaders of the terrorist organization have turned the camp into a prison and the residents of the camp are completely cut off from the outside world.

“The residents are not allowed to use the phones, internet and satellite receivers. We don’t anything about the world we feel like are in a prison,” said Zahra Baqeri, a defected MKO member.

They also said that the leaders of the camp have ordered the members to encounter the Iraqi forces if they tried to enter the camp.

In April the MKO members clashed with the Iraqi security forces. The MKO claimed that the Iraqi forces killed 34 of its members in the clashes. But Iraqi forces rejected the claim, saying they have been killed by the organization itself.

“The leaders of the camp changed their strategy in 2003. They started training residents the ways to counterattack the Iraqi forces without saying the reason but now we know why,” said Mohammad Reza Gholi, another defected MKO member.

The former MKO members said many residents of Camp Ashraf, who are under immense pressure, want to escape but are afraid and unsure of the future. They said scores of MKO members have been killed by the organization recently.

“Everyone who wants quit the organization is getting killed,” said Ghaffar Balafkandeh, who is another MKO defector.

“We have information from inside the camp that many residents do not want to stay, but remain there under coercion and threats from leaders of the group,” said al-Askari.

The MKO has carried out many acts of terror against Iranians and cooperated with Saddam in suppressing the 1991 uprisings in southern Iraq.

The group is listed as a terrorist organization by much of the International community.

Iran has repeatedly called on the Iraqi government to expel the group, but the US has been blocking the expulsion by pressuring the Iraqi government.

Three months ago another four MKO members defected the camp and according to the Iraqi Defense Ministry the number of the defected MKO members has risen to 58 members.