PA Delegation Heads to Damascus as ISIS Claims Yarmouk Victory

PLO officials travel to Syrian capital to discuss unfolding humanitarian disaster in Yarmouk; ISIS claims its takeover of the camp complete.

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Arutz Sheva Staff,

Yarmouk has been wracked by fighting between ISIS, rebels
Yarmouk has been wracked by fighting between ISIS, rebels
Reuters

A Palestinian Authority official said Monday a delegation was heading to Damascus for talks on helping residents inside the Yarmouk camp, parts of which have been overrun by the Islamic State jihadi group.

Hundreds of families have been evacuated from the camp in a southern neighborhood of Damascus after ISIS jihadists launched on attack on Wednesday.

Palestinian forces inside Yarmouk - mainly aligned with the Islamist Hamas terrorist group - are largely surrounded by ISIS fighters who have captured the majority of the camp.

On Monday, ISIS uploaded a video claiming to show the moment it completed its takeover of the camp, though that claim that has not yet been independently verified.

Ahmed Majdalani, an official with the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), told AFP that the delegation would focus its efforts on providing security and assistance to the camp.

"We will discuss with a number of Syrian officials securing the relief corridor opened yesterday to deliver humanitarian aid and getting civilians out so they won't become human shields for the terrorist Daesh group," he said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.  

The delegation will also hold meetings with various Palestinian Arab factions to discuss how to counter ISIS threats, said Majdalani, who is heading the group.

Since taking over large swathes of Yarmouk, ISIS has set about executing captured opposition fighters and civilians, including at least one senior Hamas figure.

Majdalani accused ISIS terrorists of "seeking to control the whole camp" and to use it "as a springboard for attacks on the Syrian capital Damascus because of its strategic location".

He said the visit comes after talks with officials in several Arab countries.

"We have an Arab and international plan to stop the violence perpetrated against our people," Majdalani said.

In a statement, the PLO called for "all sides to immediately agree to protect the camp from efforts to turn it into a battlefield".

It also called for civilians to have access to relief corridors and to humanitarian and medical assistance.

Since the jihadist advance began, regime forces have pounded the camp with shells and barrel bombs, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group.

Dozens of Hamas and Islamic Jihad supporters meanwhile protested in Gaza on Monday to demand an end to the violence in Yarmouk.

"We demand the attackers immediately stop their killing," former Hamas justice minister Mohamed Faraj al-Ghul told protesters outside the parliament building in the Gaza Strip.  

Yarmouk "must be a neutral place, far from the madness of war," he said, urging an international intervention to "stop the killing".

Yarmouk was once a thriving neighborhood home to 160,000 Palestinian Arabs - descendants of refugees from the Arab-Israeli conflict, who themselves are granted hereditary "refugee status" by the UN in contrast to all other refugees - as well as thousands of Syrians, but has been caught up in the country's civil unrest which began in 2011.

It has been besieged by regime forces for more than a year and only about 18,000 residents are estimated to remain in the camp after many fled the fighting.

ISIS, which has seized control of large parts of Syria and Iraq, has fought not only against President Bashar al-Assad's regime but also against other rebel groups as it seeks to expand the territory under its control.








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