A long-simmering dispute between the State Department and dozens of members of Congress broke into the open this week after a report that an Iranian exile group was fighting in Iraq on behalf of Saddam Hussein.
Officials at State have long distrusted the Mujahideen Khalq, which has military camps in eastern Iraq near the Iranian border and a sophisticated lobbying operation in Washington and Paris. The department added the group to its list of terrorist organizations in 1997.
A wire-service report, stated last week that the group's base had come under attack from coalition forces battling Saddam's regime.
That appeared to be confirmed this week when the Hill, a newspaper focused on congressional affairs, quoted a State Department official saying the group was indeed a target of U.S. forces and believed to be fighting with the irregular Fedayeen forces.
"They're a combatant. They are being targeted. Targeting data is being provided to the Pentagon," the paper quoted Greg Sullivan, spokesman for the State Department's Near East affairs desk, as saying.
"We believe they are undertaking some action in the south [of Iraq] where enemy combatants have disguised themselves as civilians".
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