Iran opposition lays down arms in Iraq

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

The U.S. Army has completed the disarmament of the Iranian opposition in Iraq.

U.S. officials said the operation, which began in May, was completed without a fight. They said thousands of weapons have been collected from the Mujahadeen Khalq, which has been waging a 25-year war against Teheran.

In all, officials said, 5,000 Mujahadeen fighters were disarmed. They said more than 2,000 pieces of military equipment were recovered, Middle East Newsline reported.

Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry, listed the weapons captured from the Mujahadeen. He said the Iranian opposition force had 300 tanks, 250 armored personnel carriers and 250 artillery pieces.

"They have been completely disarmed," Odierno, said. "We have taken all small arms and all heavy equipment."

In addition, the general said, the Mujahadeen surrendered 10,000 small arms. The general said the group had about 2,200 pieces of equipment.

Odierno did not identify the tanks and artillery models. But Western diplomatic sources they included T-54 and British Chieftan main battle tanks, Soviet-origin BMP-1 and U.S.-origin M113 armored personnel carriers and 155 mm artillery.

The Mujahadeen was equipped by the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and officials said the group participated in the early stage of the war in Iraq in late March. They said the surrender of Mujahadeen equipment was completed in late May.

On Tuesday, casualties were reported among coalition forces in Iraqi insurgency attacks. Six British soldiers were killed and eight others were injured in attacks near the southern city of Basra.

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