Mukhtar Army Claims Rocket Attack on MKO

Mukhtar Army Claims Rocket Attack on MKO Mukhtar Army Claims Rocket Attack on MKO

The Mukhtar Army, a Shia Iraqi militia group, claimed responsibility for Thursday's rocket attack on a camp next to Baghdad International Airport holding members of the banned Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization, killing over 20 residents and wounding about 200.

In an interview with Fars News Agency, Wathiq al-Battat, leader of the Mukhtar Army, said the militia group carried out the attack.

"We had told MKO leaders that they must leave Iraqi soil as soon as possible, but despite the facilities provided by European countries and the United States, they were insistent on occupying part of our territory and their approach compelled us to take action."

He warned the MKO that if they do not leave Iraq, "Repetition of such operations is likely."

Police sources said six Katyusha rockets had landed inside the perimeter of the airport without causing damage, while six others landed on the MKO camp inside Camp Liberty, Reuters reported.

The rockets were fired from the Bakriya neighborhood, about 6 km northeast of the airport, Iraq's joint operations command spokesman, Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, said. MKO members fled Iran for Iraq in 1986 and sided with former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s but fell out of favor with Baghdad after he was toppled by a US-led invasion in 2003.

In December 2011, the United Nations and Baghdad agreed to relocate some 3,000 MKO members from Camp Ashraf, now known as Camp New Iraq, to Camp Liberty, a former US military base.

The last group of terrorists was evicted by the Iraqi government in September 2013 and relocated to Camp Liberty to await potential relocation to third countries.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement that the US government had been in touch with senior Iraqi officials to ensure they provide "all possible medical and emergency assistance to the victims."

Kerry also urged the Iraqi government to increase security at the camp and find those responsible for the attack.

The United States was committed to assisting the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in relocating all of the camp's residents "to a permanent and safe location outside of Iraq", he added.