Yarmouk residents flee Syria fighting

An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube on 17 December 2012, allegedly shows bodies strewn on the ground of a mosque following an air strike by the Syrian military on the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus one day earlier. (Photo: AFP / YouTube)

Published Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Over 95 percent of Palestinians in Yarmouk have fled the refugee camp near Damascus under heavy shelling, the Palestinian ambassador to Syria said Tuesday, as fighting continued between anti- and pro-government groups.

Mahmoud al-Khalidi told Ma'an news agency that refugees fled to UNRWA schools amid violent clashes between rebels and the pro-government Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC).

Rebel and Palestinian sources said Syrian rebels took full control of Yarmouk camp on Monday after fighting raged for days in the district on the southern edge of Damascus.

The government’s air force on Sunday began launching airstrikes on areas of the camp as rebel forces advanced.

Khalidi said he had contacted the Syrian Foreign Ministry to request an end to airstrikes on Yarmouk, but Syrian officials insisted rebels must leave the camp first.

The ambassador added that he had met with Palestinian factions to provide food, aid and housing to refugees, and that he would meet on Tuesday with the Supreme Relief Committee of Palestinian Refugees.

He said Palestinian leaders had agreed to stay out of the crisis in Syria, but the location of the camps had pushed Palestinians into the battle.

The battle in Yarmouk pitted rebels, backed by some Palestinians, against Palestinian PFLP-GC fighters.

PFLP-GC chief Ahmed Jibril on Saturday fled the camp with his son amid the escalating violence.

(Ma’an, Al-Akhbar)

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