Ali Al-Dabbagh

Iraq says it will go ahead with its earlier plan to quash the activities of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran and will close down the settlement of Iranian dissidents, Camp Ashraf, by the end of 2011

An Iraqi government spokesman, Ali Al-Dabbagh, said the Iraqi government has reaffirmed its commitment to rid Iraq of the PMOI, which the government regards as a “terrorist group”.

He said: “The group must be expelled from Iraqi territory by any means, including political and diplomatic and in cooperation with the United Nations and international organizations.” He added that officials must also consider where the group’s members want to live.

The statement comes after a confrontation between the Iraqi security forces and Camp Ashraf residents last Friday.

Ali Gaiddan, the Commander of Iraqi Ground Forces, confirmed three people died in the incident, which they claim was instigated by camp members.

The PMOI claims more than 30 people were killed and hundreds injured in Friday’s incident.

The group has opposed the Iranian government since the early days of the Islamic Republic, taking shelter at Camp Ashraf during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s.

In 2003, with the U.S. invasion of Iraq, U.S. forces took control of the camp and disarmed the residents. In 2009, Americans relinquished control of the camp to the Iraqi government, which has been intent on removing the group from its territory.

The residents fear being deported to Iran, where scores of Iranians have been executed for links to the PMOI. Like Tehran, Washington considers the PMOI to be a terrorist group.

Camp Ashraf was previously attacked by Iraqi security forces last July, when 11 people were killed and more than 500 were wounded.

Human rights organizations have called for an independent investigation of the attacks on Camp Ashraf.