(a.k.a. Camp Barbarian)
Camp Ashraf is currently the holding site and the former base for between 3,500 and 4,000 members of the Mujahedin el-Khalq (MKO, MEK, or The People's Mujahedin). The MEK have been classified by the United States and the European Union as a terrorist organization. While Iraq was ruled by Saddam Hussein, MEK received much of its financial backing from the Iraqi government because of its anti-Iranian mission. The MEK's blend of Marxism and Islamism opposed both Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and the current Shiite Islamist regime in Iran. The MEK had previously targeted Americans working in Iran.
Camp Ashraf is 65km north of Baghdad and approximately 100km west of the border with Iran. The camp is 36 square kilometers in size. As of February 2004, it maintained two hospitals, a water treatment plant, a fuel station and unit dining facilities that served 12,000 meals per day and provided 80,000 gallons of water per day. These facilities allowed Camp Ashraf to be designated logistically self-sustaining by the US military.
Between April and June 2003, the US military negotiated a cease-fire agreement with the MEK and began to disarm the group. According to a media report, by one count, the MKO surrendered to US troops 300 tanks, 250 armored personnel carriers, 250 artillery pieces, and 10,000 small arms. It is widely recognized that the MEK possessed arms equivalent to a mechanized brigade at the time of the US invasion. As of September 2003, the MEK members who had been using Camp Ashraf as a base were consolidated, detained, disarmed, and were being screened and interviewed for any past acts of terrorism. This process and the detention facilities were being maintained by the 530th Military Police Battalion as well as the 310th Military Intelligence Battalion. The MEK were considered protected persons under the Geneva Conventions. According to media reports, they enjoyed significant freedom within the camp itself but have not been allowed to leave the camp in great numbers.
As of March 2005, the 520th ASMC under Task Force Med 115th had been responsible for detainee medical operations for eight months. The unit was responsible for an HIV program and an opthalmology screening program.
On August 4, 2005 two members of MEK were abducted by unknown persons while travelling in Baghdad. It is unknown if these two individuals had originated from Camp Ashraf.
On February 22, 2006, the Bulgarian Parliament approved a measure to send a 150-person non-combat contigent to Camp Ashraf on a humanitarian mission designed to oversee control of the camp. On March 29, the Bulgaria sent its first contingent to the camp. This group was designed to stay there for between six months and one year with decisions about future replacements to be decided later. Under the agreement, the Bulgarians would be under the command of the US military, which would pay for their transportation, logistical, and medical expenses. News reports cite the mission as one to guard the refugees within the camp. Therefore, it is unclear what contact, if any, the Bulgarians will have with the MEK or if US military contact with the group will diminish.
FOB/Camp Red Lion
FOB/Camp Grizzly is an FOB located in or near Camp Ashraf. On May 6, 2006, Bulgarian 1st Guard Company Soldiers completed their training at FOB Grizzly.
- This Week in Iraq MNF-I 15 May 2006
- Bulgaria Sends Non-Combat Guard Unit to Iraq Xinhua 29 Mar 2006
- Soldiers Survive IED Blast; Iranian Opposition Members Kidnapped AFPS 15 Aug 2005
- Camp Ashraf, Iraq LA Times 19 Mar 2005
- Camp Ashraf Mission Brief 530th MP Battalion 11 Feb 2004
- Inside a Group Caught Between Three Powers CSM 31 Dec 2003
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