Thursday, January 09, 2003

Rebels Fear Iran Using Iraq War to Raid Their Bases

Rebels Fear Iran Using Iraq War to Raid Their Bases
January 09, 2003

DUBAI, -- Iran's main rebel group, the People's Mujahideen, has accused Tehran of planning to exploit the Iraqi crisis to attack its bases in Iraq.

Mujahideen leader Massoud Rajavi warned of a possible Iranian attack in recent talks with the vice-chairman of Iraq's Revolutionary Command Council, Izzat Ibrahim, the Iraq-based group said in a statement received in Dubai on Thursday.

''Rajavi provided...documents on the mullahs' planned aggression with the objective of attacking and capturing the Mujahideen's camps in the circumstances of war and crisis,'' it said.

''Taking advantage of the current crisis, (they) are making all-round preparations, politically and militarily, in order to repeat their terrorist attacks...inside Iraq,'' said the group, which is listed as ''terrorist'' by the United States and the European Union.

Iran has in the past raided the Mujahideen camps in Iraq in retaliation for cross-border attacks or bombings by the rebels, who have waged a campaign to topple Iran's Islamic government.

Tehran is bitterly opposed to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, whose forces invaded Iran in 1980, prompting a costly war which lasted eight years.

But the Islamic Republic has publicly opposed any U.S. attack to oust Saddam for fear that it might lead to a government in Baghdad friendly with its arch-foe, the United States.

Iran has nevertheless hosted talks by Iraqi opposition leaders and an Iran-based Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim rebel group is expected to join in any U.S.-led attack to topple the Iraqi government.