Iranian exile relocation in Iraq nears end
September 16, 2012 -- Updated 2014 GMT (0414 HKT)
- The last major convoy of MEK members arrives at a temporary site near Baghdad
- The U.N. is overseeing the process to find new homes for them in third countries
- MEK is on the U.S. terrorism list because of the killing of 6 Americans in the 1970s
- Saddam Hussein invited them to Iraq in an effort to undermine Iran's government in 1986
(CNN) -- The relocation of an Iranian exile group from a refugee camp in Iraq where they've lived for more than 25 years is nearing completion, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq said Sunday.
The last major convoy of 680 members of the Mujahedin-e Khalq, or MEK, arrived at the new temporary site, a former U.S. military base near Baghdad International Airport, on Sunday, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq said.
"This is an important step as we near the end of the relocation process," said Martin Kobler, special representative for Iraq of the U.N. secretary-general.
The U.N. is overseeing the process to find new homes for the 3,280 MEK members in third countries under an agreement reached with the Iraqi government last year.
"I urge the international community to speed up its efforts to accept residents in third countries," Kobler said.
MEK was placed on the U.S. terrorism list in1997 because of the killing of six Americans in Iran in the 1970s and an attempted attack against the Iranian mission to the United Nations in 1992. However, since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf "noncombatants" and "protected persons" under the Geneva Conventions.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is under a court order to decide by October 1 whether to remove MEK from the terror list. The secretary has said several times that her decision would be guided, in part, by whether the group moves peacefully from Camp Ashraf.
MEK leaders have been reluctant to complete the move from Camp Ashraf to Camp Hurriya, formerly an American facility known as Camp Liberty. They complained about conditions at the new camp, calling it more a prison than a home, after the first convoy arrived in February.
Camp Ashraf was established in 1986 after former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein invited members of MEK to relocate to Iraq in an effort to undermine the Iranian government, which was then at war with Iraq. Iran also considers the group to be a terrorist organization.
A U.N. commission on refugees has described the residents as "formal asylum seekers" from persecution by the regime in Iran.
The arrival of the last convoy "marks a significant milestone in efforts to achieve a sustainable humanitarian solution to this issue," the U.S. State Department said Sunday.
A small group remains at the old camp to "residual issues and then also move to Camp Hurriya," the State Department said.
Opinion: Don't be fooled: MEK is a terrorist group
Supporters of Iranian resistance group rally at State Department
CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.
Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
February 8, 2013 -- Updated 0718 GMT (1518 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
Today's five most popular stories