A video posted on the internet on Monday showed suspected Iraqi military forces brutally assaulting a camp in Iraq occupied by Iranian dissidents, killing dozens of them.
Footage of the attack on Camp Ashraf, situated in Iraq’s Diyala province bordering Iran, shows soldiers shooting at what appear to be the camp’s occupants, while armored Humvees drive around the camp, running over unarmed civilians.
In one clip, the camp’s occupants are seen carrying away the wounded, while in another, a man is shot while running away from gunfire.
Many of the camp’s approximately 100 occupants are members of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) group, which was originally founded to oppose the Iranian Shah, later taking up arms against Iran’s clerical rulers after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Supporters of the camp’s exiles allege that 52 people were killed in violence by Iraqi security forces, and that another seven were taken hostage.
Iraqi officials have announced lower death tolls and differing accounts of the incident, some saying the violence began with infighting amongst the camp’s members.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced that his government was establishing a special committee to investigate the incident.
A statement issued by Maliki’s office said the Iraqi government is committed to ensuring the safety of people living within its borders, although it also “stressed the necessity of transferring the MEK members who are staying in Iraq illegally.”
A United Nations team visited the camp on Monday and is expected to return to Baghdad later on in the day, according to U.N. spokesperson Eliana Nabaa.
The visit was intended to be “on humanitarian grounds, to assess where we can assist,” she said, according to the Associated Press.
The U.N. mission does not have instructions to conduct a formal investigation, and it is not clear what, if any, findings they will release.
Members of the MEK fought alongside Iraqi forces in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein granted sanctuary to several thousand of its members.
The group officially renounced violence in 2001, and the camp’s MEK member were disarmed by U.S. troops after the invasion in 2003.
Until last year, Camp Ashraf was occupied by more than 3,000 MEK members, before being moved to Camp Liberty, a former U.S. military base near Baghdad.
Camp Liberty is meant to be a holding while the U.N. resettles the exiles abroad.
Iraq’s current Shiite-led government has reinforced ties with neighboring Shiite Iran, and considers the MEK’s presence in Iraq illegal.
Resettling exiles has been taken time because of the difficulty the U.N. has had from member states to allow the exiles in.
So far, at least 162 MEK members have been resettled out of the country, many of them in Albania.SHOW MORE