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1971: Iranians deported from Iraq
Iraq has expelled some 60,000 Iranian men, women and children in the past few days, Iranian officials announced today.

It is unclear whether the figures from the Iranian Red Lion and Sun (Red Cross) Society also include previous deportations over the past weeks and months.

An Iranian Government spokesman today accused Iraq of moving thousands of people to within seven miles of the border in convoys of an estimated 1,000 buses in the last few days.

He said they were dumped in freezing weather conditions without shelter and were forced to make their own way on the final leg of their journey across the border.

It is understood most of the people were expelled from cities such as the capital Baghdad, Basra, the oil rich centre of Khanaquin and the holy city of Karbala.

Iranian police claimed they detained many Iraqi nationals, some armed with weapons and explosives, among the deportees arriving at the border towns of Khosrowi and Ghassr Shirin.

Strained relations

The move comes after a bitter exchange of words and actions in recent weeks.

Iraq severed relations with Iran at the start of this month after the Iranian seizure of its Gulf Islands of Abu Musa, Lesser Tunb, and Greater Tunb in the Persian Gulf.

But Iran said relations between the two countries deteriorated in 1969 because of a dispute over navigation rights in the Shatt al-Arab waterway, the jointly shared estuary of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

The Shatt is economically important to both countries.

Iran has taken no action against Iraq over the latest expulsions but is said to be moving troops up to the borders.

The Red Lion and Sun Society said it had set up special camps along the borders and relief workers are on hand with aid.

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Convoy of refugee vehicles
The expulsions come in the wake of worsening relations

In Context
The Shatt Al Arab river defines a border between Iran and Iraq and is important economically for shipping and production to both.

Iran's occupation of the Gulf Islands near the outlet of the river was considered provocative because it transferred the islands from Arab to Persian control.

In 1969 Iran rejected a 1937 agreement about how to share the waterway and openly challenged Iraq's authority to use it.

Iraq also accused Iran of supporting armed Kurdish separatist movements in the north of the country and inciting civil unrest.

Jordan's King Hussein brokered a peace deal between both countries to end the six year long dispute.

In March 1975 the Iran-Iraq Treaty on International Borders and Good Neighbourly Relations was signed outlining each state's access to the waterway.

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