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Iraq to provide passports for Iraqi opponents in Iran: newspaper

BAGHDAD, Aug 31 (AFP) - Iraq will issue passports for Iraqi opposition figures living in Iran because the Iranian authorities are harassing them, the weekly Al-Ittihad newspaper said Tuesday.

"Iraq has decided to give passports to the Iraqis living in Iran unconditionally and without taking into consideration the crimes they have committed, which are punishable by law," the report said.

Those who wish to obtain their passports should "register their names with the International Committee of the Red Cross."

The paper said Iraq made the decision because "the Iranian authorities have recently begun to harass Iraqis living in Iran."

Iraq said at the end of June that Iraqis living abroad who did not have travel documents could obtain passports within 24 hours and that they would be renewed "without prosecution."

According to generally-accepted statistics, about 60,000 Iraqi refugees live in camps in southern and southwestern Iran. Some of them left the country illegally without their passports while others' passports have lapsed.

The exact number of Iraqi opposition figures in Iran is not known, but many Shiite Moslems fled to Iran after the Shiite uprising in southern Iraq which followed the 1991 Gulf War.


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