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April 12, 2003
 
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Iran Rebels Say 18 Fighters Killed in Iraq

Reuters


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DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran's main rebel group, the People's Mujahideen, said on Saturday 18 of its fighters were killed and 43 wounded in attacks by "Iranian agents" on their camps in Iraq last week.

The Mujahideen, which seeks to overthrow Iran's Islamic government, said several of its fighters were missing after the attacks on the camps in northeast Iraq on April 10 and April 11.

"To carry out these terrorist attacks and schemes, the Ministry of Intelligence dispatched a large number of its henchmen and agents as well as a number of its Kurdish and Arabic-speaking operatives to Iraq," the group said in a statement sent to Reuters in Dubai.

"Simultaneously, the clerical regime shelled a number of other Mujahideen bases along the Iran-Iraq border with heavy artillery," the statement added.

Iranian officials were not immediately available to comment.

The rebel group had close ties to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's government and its bases in Iraq are considered enemy targets by U.S.-led forces which have entered several Iraq cities including the capital Baghdad.

Iran's Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi said in remarks published last week that Iran had no intention of attacking Mujahideen bases in Iraq, as it has done in the past in retaliation for cross-border attacks and bombings in Iran.

While publicly opposed to the U.S.-led attack on Iraq, Iran has vowed to stay out of the conflict.

Iran has said that scores of Mujahideen rebels defected and returned home in recent months under an amnesty offered by Tehran, but the Mujahideen denied the report as "totally false."

Iraq's support for the Mujahideen and Iran's backing for Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim dissidents has been a main obstacle to efforts by the two neighbors to normalize ties after the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.

Copyright 2003 Reuters News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
 
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