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Armed Group in Iraq Accedes to U.S.

May 11, 2003|From Associated Press

CAMP ASHRAF, Iraq — Surrounded by American tanks, an Iranian opposition group agreed Saturday to turn over its weapons and submit to the demands of U.S. forces, Army officials said.

Representatives of the Moujahedeen Khalq operating near Baqubah, 25 miles northeast of the capital, struck the agreement after two days of negotiations with U.S. forces. Their capitulation was reported by the U.S. Army's V Corps headquarters in Baghdad.

The Army said the process would take "several days" to complete.

The V Corps statement did not use the word surrender, and military officials said they would not describe the capitulation in those terms.

"Surrender implies there was a fight," said Lt. Col. Bill MacDonald, a military spokesman for the 4th Infantry Division.

The officials said members of the organization would not be classified as prisoners of war; their status was "yet to be determined."

Saturday's capitulation, which appeared nonetheless to be a surrender in everything but terminology, underscores the U.S. desire to be the unquestioned and unchallenged armed force in Iraq a month after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime.

The announcement of the developments was accompanied by a warning.

"Groups who display hostile intent or refuse to cooperate with the authority of the coalition will be subjected to the full weight of coalition military power," V Corps said.

The Moujahedeen Khalq's well-armed force for years fought Iran's Islamic rulers from Iraq with the backing of Hussein's regime. American officials deemed it a terrorist organization in the 1990s.

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