Iraq army denies Iranian opposition claim

An Iranian opposition group said on Sunday that Iraqi forces had invaded its Camp Ashraf base in Iraq's Diyala province, but the army denied the claim.


"The forces of Iraq's Fifth Division invaded Camp Ashraf with columns of armoured vehicles, occupying areas inside the camp, since midnight on Saturday," the People's Mujahedeen of Iran (PMOI) said in a statement.


The Iraqi army denied the Iranian opposition group's accusation.


"It's a replacement of forces, not a new deployment," Brigadier Tarek Azzawi, chief of military operations in Diyala province, north of Baghdad, told AFP.


"The Fifth Division in Diyala has replaced the Ninth Division that protects Ashraf, and we have not advanced even one metre (yard)," he said. "There were no clashes," he added.


The People's Mujahedeen, a left-wing and Islamic movement, was founded in 1965 in opposition to the shah of Iran and has subsequently fought to oust the clerical regime that took power in Tehran after Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.
The group set up Camp Ashraf in the 1980s -- when Saddam Hussein's regime was at war with the Islamic republic -- as a base to operate against Tehran. It was disarmed following the US-led invasion of 2003.

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