Kurdish opposition groups removed from border areas: Iraqi officials

Kurdish opposition groups removed from border areas: Iraqi officials
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Iraq has pledged to treat members of Iranian-Kurdish opposition groups as refugees and said that they will be resettled in camps that will be under the supervision of the UN refugee agency.

Iraq officials on Tuesday announced that they have complied with the terms of an agreement with Iran to disarm the Kurdish opposition groups along the Iranian border, and said that the locations previously used by the opposition groups have been evacuated.

In the agreement signed by the two countries in March, September 19 was set as the deadline for Iraq to complete disarming of Iranian-Kurdish groups who have been involved in armed struggle against the Iranian military.

The Iranian military in July threatened to use military action if Baghdad fails to meet the deadline.

"The headquarters located near the border with Iran, which were previously used by Iranian[-Kurdish] opposition groups, have been definitively evacuated," read a statement by the Iraqi High Committee for the Implementation of the Joint Security Agreement, adding that the evacuation was carried out through the joint efforts of Baghdad, Erbil, and the Iran-Iraq joint committee.

The committee said that the groups' evacuation of the headquarters "requires our responsibility to protect them," noting that the members of the groups have been moved away from the borders and disarmed "in preparation for them being considered refugees."

During a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Tehran last week, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said that camps were being set up in an undisclosed location for the refugees to move into, adding that the camps will be under the supervision of the UN refugee agency.

Special Representative Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), attended the meetings that resulted in the implementation of the agreement, according to the statement. She announced her support for the implementation of the agreement "with the possibility of dealing with these groups as long as they have civilian status."

Tehran has long accused the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of harboring opposition groups it considers "terrorists" and allowing them to use the border areas as a launchpad for attacks against Iran.

Iranian-Kurdish opposition groups based in the Kurdistan Region -namely the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI), Komala, Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK), and the Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK)- have been accused of fueling the nationwide protest movement in Iran last year and inciting unrest in the country.