- - Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Iranian exiles ready to leave Camp Ashraf

PARIS — An Iranian exile group says more than 3,000 of its members based in a camp in Iraq are ready to leave if they get U.S. and U.N. security guarantees.

Camp Ashraf in eastern Iraq houses Iranians dedicated to the overthrow of the Iranian government. They moved into the camp decades ago during the regime of Saddam Hussein, who saw them as convenient allies against Tehran.

The Obama administration has urged residents of Camp Ashraf to accept a U.N.-brokered deal to move.

U.S. and U.N. officials are hoping to avoid a possible violent standoff with Iraqi authorities, who have vowed to close the facility by year’s end.

The group’s Paris-based leader, Maryam Rajavi, said in a statement Tuesday that camp residents are “in principle prepared to relocate.”


Syria urged to apply Arab deal as deaths mount

DAMASCUS — At least 100 Syrian army deserters were killed or wounded in clashes Tuesday as Damascus faced demands to halt its bloody nine-month crackdown on dissent a day after signing an Arab peace plan.

The Arab League said an advance team of observers would head to Damascus on Thursday to lay the ground for monitors overseeing the plan, as Western powers and Gulf monarchs piled pressure on Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said three civilians were killed Tuesday in addition to the military casualties in northwestern Idlib province in a second day of clashes between loyalist troops and deserters.

The Observatory reported Monday that up to 70 deserters were gunned down as they tried to flee their military posts in the Idlib towns of Kansafra and Kafruwed.

The organization, based in Britain, also reported that three civilians were killed by gunfire from security forces in Idlib province and the flash-point central city of Homs - a day after reporting the deaths of 40 civilians.


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