Conditions 'beyond inhumane' in Palestinian refugee camp attacked by ISIS
A Palestinian refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus is under attack by a coalition of Islamic State fighters and the al-Nusra militia, an al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist group. According to reports, they have seized about 90% of the camp and have made conditions so bad that the UN Security Council held an emergency session to address the humanitarian crisis.
Palestinian fighters have clashed with Islamic State militants in a heavily contested Palestinian refugee camp in the Syrian capital as a United Nations official described the situation in the embattled camp as "beyond inhumane".
The fighting in Yarmouk began on Wednesday after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group muscled into the camp, marking the extremists' deepest foray yet into Damascus.
The heavy clashes that have raged since then have added yet another layer of misery for up to 18,000 Yarmouk residents who have already endured desperate conditions marked by a lack of basic food, medicine and water.
The deteriorating situation prompted the UN Security Council to call an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss Yarmouk and receive a closed-door videoconference briefing by the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Pierre Krahenbuhl, who called the humanitarian situation in the camp "completely catastrophic".
The Security Council called for life-saving assistance and safe evacuation for the Palestinians, protection for the refugees, and humanitarian access to the camp – and said it will look into further measures to help achieve this.
The council also condemned "the grave crimes" committed by Isil and al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra against civilians in Yarmouk, and said their crimes must not go unpunished.
After heavy fighting on Sunday, sporadic clashes broke out on Monday in Yarmouk, according to Hatem al-Dimashqi, an activist based in an area just south of Damascus, and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Both al-Dimashqi and the Observatory said Syrian government aircraft have been shelling the camp and dropping barrel bombs since Sunday.
The fighting inside the camp has largely pitted the Islamic State group against Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis, a Palestinian faction opposed to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Observatory director Rami Abdurrahman estimated that the Islamic State group now controls as much as 90 per cent of Yarmouk, slowly squeezing out Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis.
Palestinian officials and Syrian activists say Isil militants fighting in Yarmouk were working with rivals from the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, the Nusra Front. The two groups have fought bloody battles against each other in other parts of Syria, but appear to be cooperating in the attack on Yarmouk.
It's Islamic State and al-Nusra terrorists versus Palestinian terrorists. Is it OK if we wish that both sides lose?
The refugee camp is only 5 miles from Bashar Assad's presidential palace. But even with al-Nusra assisting them, the terrorists aren't strong enough to detrhone Assad and take over Syria - yet. But the camp has strategic value in that it would be an excellent jumping off point for attacking the suburbs of Damascus where anti-Assad fighters are hanging on and Assad;'s forces are concentrating. The goal may be to put pressure on Assad by attacking him in his own backyard.