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Missiles near Baghdad airport kill soldiers, Iran refugees

A one-time US base near Baghdad airport has been struck by rockets. More than a dozen people are thought to have been killed at former Camp Liberty, which houses Iranians opposed to the regime in Tehran.

Rocket fire struck a former US military base near Baghdad International Airport late on Thursday. Three Iraqi soldiers were killed, along with an unknown amount of Iranian refugees who are housed there.

Sources from within the exiled Mujahedeen-e-Khalq group, said at least twenty of their people had died, and around 16 soldiers guarding the former Camp Liberty had been wounded. However, according to officials, "due to darkness of the night, the exact number of dead and wounded cannot be established."

Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, or MEK, is staunchly opposed to the clerical regime in Tehran. They were welcomed with open arms in the 1980s by another firm opponent of the Iranian Ayatollah, Saddam Hussein. The group has not fared as well since the US-led

overthrow of Hussein in 2003,

as the new government has become increasingly hostile in the wake of strengthened ties with Iran.

Tehran blamed

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but Maryam Rajavi, who is president of the parent organization of MEK, the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, was quick to blame Tehran.

"The Iranian regime's agents within the Iraqi government are responsible for the latest assault. The United States and United Nations are fully aware of this reality," she said in a statement.

This is not the first time the MEK group at Camp Liberty has been attacked. Last year, an attack blamed on "Islamic State" (IS) militants, missiles were fired near Baghdad International Airport in a suspected attempt to destabilize the capital.

US Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the attack, saying his department was "consulting with the Government of Iraq to ascertain the full extent of this unprovoked attack."

"No matter the circumstances," the statement continued, "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."

The group has often reported deteriorating conditions at their isolated camp, as well as neglect and abuse by the Iraqi government.

es/bw (AP, AFP)

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