Global media are reporting the assessment of a Syrian monitoring group which says that the Islamic State has taken control of 90 of the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp, located outside of Damascus and known in the past to have been controlled by Hamas and other “Palestinian factions” such as Hezbollah. According to a Deutsche Welle report:
April 5, 2015 “Islamic State” (IS) has taken control of 90 percent of a Palestinian camp on the Damascus outskirts, a Syrian monitoring group said on Saturday, as fighting continues for the fourth day.
According to the monitoring group, about 18,000 civilians have suffered years of bombing, army siege and militia control in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk.
They say the militants include IS and the Nusra Front, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria. The two groups are rivals in Syria but appear to be cooperating in the attack on the Yarmouk camp.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said IS and the Nusra Front made gains overnight, pushing into the northeast of the district, close to central Damascus.IS militants had stormed the Yarmouk camp on Wednesday. The group’s offensive in Yarmouk gives it a major presence in the capital.
IS is now only a few kilometers from President Bashar al-Assad’s seat of power, the news agency Reuters reports.
Syria’s state news agency SANA said the army had encircled Yarmouk.
Read the rest here.
Meanwhile, Islamist media is reporting that Hamas has called for an end to the fighting in the camp. According to a Middle East monitor report:
April 4, 2015 Hamas called on Saturday for an immediate end to armed clashes in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk on the outskirts of Damascus. The deputy leader of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement said that the organisation is following the situation in Yarmouk ‘closely and with deep concerns’. Ismail Haniyeh called for the refugees in the camp, and other Palestinians in Syria, to be side-lined from the ongoing civil conflict.
Another member of the Hamas political bureau, Izzat Al-Reshiq, condemned the ‘vile aggression’ against Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk, which ‘aggravates’ an already dreadful situation. ‘This adds to the suffering and pain caused by hunger and thirst, disease, bombing and murder,’ he insisted. He called for an international effort to save the refugee camp from the ongoing attack and lift the lengthy blockade.
Reads the rest here.
The GMBDW reported last week that Islamic State fighters had entered the Yarmouk camp.
The Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp is located outside Damascus and has been the scene of heavy fighting involving various factions in the Syrian civil war. A December 2012 BBC profile explained how Yarmouk became a Hamas center in Syria:
In addition to banishing the PLO’s leadership, the Syrian government came to see Yarmouk as an opposition stronghold and also arrested thousands of Arafat supporters. Afterwards, residents began to concentrate on commercial, rather than political and military activities. This resulted in Yarmouk becoming a centre of commerce in Damascus, and today tens of thousands of Syrians live and work there. With the PLO’s relations with the Syrian government strained, the Palestinian Islamist movements Hamas and Islamic Jihad sought to fill the political power vacuum in Yarmouk. Leaders from both groups moved in and recruited scores of youths to their causes. Hamas’s political leader Khaled Meshaal lived in Yarmouk until he refused to endorse President Bashar al-Assad’s handling of the uprising against his rule. Once the Hamas Political Bureau had relocated to Egypt and Qatar in early 2012, they declared their wholehearted support of the Syrian opposition.
Other GMBDW reporting on the Yarmouk camp has included:
- The GMBDW reported in November 2013 on the Winter aid convoy to the Yarmouk Camp scheduled that time for launch by the European Al-Wafaa campaign, an organization close to the Hamas infrastructure in Europe. In October 2013.
- In January 2014, the GMBDW reported that the UK Muslim Brotherhood had launched what was described as an unprecedented initiative to aid Palestinian refugees in the Yarmouk refugee camp
- In February 2014, we reported that Hamas had remained contact with Hezbollah over issues relating to the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and that Hamas and other unnamed “Palestinian factions” would be temporarily in charge of security at the Yarmouk camp.
- In April 2014, we reported that the 8th convoy of the European Al-Wafaa Campaign had entered Yarmouk.