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Ambassador: Palestinian camp in Damascus deserted
Published Tuesday 18/12/2012 (updated) 20/12/2012 11:35
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BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Over 95 percent of Palestinians in Yarmouk have fled the refugee camp near Damascus under heavy shelling, the Palestinian ambassador to Syria said Tuesday.

Mahmud al-Khalidi told Ma'an that refugees fled to UNRWA schools amid violent clashes between rebels and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

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.

Al-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.

President Mahmoud Abbas is monitoring the distribution of funds to refugees and has instructed al-Khalidi to provide housing for the displaced Palestinians, the ambassador said.

Al-Khalidi met with Palestinian factions to provide food, aid and housing to refugees, he said, adding 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 fighters of the pro-Assad Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command. Many PFLP-GC fighters defected to the rebel side and their leader Ahmed Jibril left the camp two days ago, rebel sources said.

"All of the camp is under the control of the (rebel) Free Syrian Army," said a Palestinian activist in Yarmouk. He said clashes had stopped and the remaining PFLP-GC fighters retreated to join Assad's forces massed on the northern edge of the camp.

The battle in Yarmouk is one of a series of conflicts on the southern fringes of Assad's capital, as rebels try to choke the power of the 47-year-old leader after a 21-month-old uprising in which 40,000 people have been killed.

Government forces have used jets and artillery to try to dislodge the fighters but the violence has crept into the heart of the city and activists say rebels overran three army stations in a new offensive in the central province of Hama on Monday.

On the border with Lebanon, hundreds of Palestinian families fled across the frontier following the weekend violence in Yarmouk, a Reuters witness said.

Syria hosts half a million Palestinian refugees, most living in Yarmouk, descendants of those admitted after the creation of Israel in 1948, and has always cast itself as a champion of the Palestinian struggle, sponsoring several guerrilla factions.

Both Assad's government and the mainly Sunni Muslim Syrian rebels have enlisted and armed divided Palestinian factions as the uprising has developed into a civil war.

Reuters contributed to this report.
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1 ) mindRider / The Free World
18/12/2012 11:09
.......Syria hosts half a million Palestinian refugees, most living in Yarmouk, descendants of those admitted after the creation of Israel in 1948, and has always cast itself as a champion of the Palestinian struggle, sponsoring several guerrilla factions........ Instead of guerrilla training they should have provided education and integration in the country's work force which might have created something positive and uplifting in a society.

2 ) hariri / ksa/m14/qatar
18/12/2012 12:09
this is reauters article.and its nonsnesne.one or 2 sources.maan is a joke ..

3 ) Mel / USA
18/12/2012 13:04
#1:U conveniently forget that Palestinians,persecuted&expelled since 1947,have the LEGAL right to RESIST the Zionist invasion&occupation of their ancestral lands.U sign your name as'TheFreeWorld'?But U adopt the tone of NAZI imperialism,which NEVER respected"Freedom"of indigenous peoples & tried 2 exterminate them too.Like Zionism's done 2 Palestinians since 1930's.PALS don't need to "integrate"within Syria when PALESTINE is their NATURAL home!It's Zionist's who shouldGO BACK HOME,to Eurasia!

4 ) Arnold / Canada
18/12/2012 14:00
Mel # 3. And you conveniently forgot to mention Arab persecution of the Jewish citizens in every Arab country at the same time. The Jews were lucky to be able to leave those countries with the clothes on their backs. And who took them in ? The State of Israel. And who gave them rights and opportunities to make a new life . The Israelis. Not on the Arab side. Not one country has allowed the Palestinians to become a citizen of the host country. They are forced to remain refugees.

5 ) Mel / USA
18/12/2012 16:17
#4:"And who took them in ? The State of Israel."No Arnold,it was PALESTINE that took them,because the land Israel gave them to colonize was Arab land!The resources Zionism gave/gives them,was/is stolen from Arab Palestine.The Jewish-only colonies OCCUPY Palestinian land.Zionist-led Israel survives on the persecution/DEATH of others!And,if Judaism since WW2,has been so persecuted,why does the MAJORITY of global Jewry STILL refuse to live in Zionist Israel & remain pluralistic multinationals?

6 ) Arnold / Canada
18/12/2012 17:05
Mel # 5. Do me a favor Mel and get yourself a map of Roman "OCCUPIED" Palestine. You will see that Roman Palestine encompassed all of what is now Israel, Gaza, West Bank, Jordon, Lebanon, as well as portions of Syria. You just refuse to accept that ancient and or biblical Palestine was of Hebrew background. Palestinia was the name given to the land by Rome.

7 ) OCCUPIED / PALESTINE
18/12/2012 18:41
you think israel had a hand in this the mosad at work making palestinians pay a price for UN TO THE CORE, THEY ARE THAT EVIL THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY IS MY FREIND, EVEN THOUGH HE ALSO IS MY ENEMY

8 ) David / country
19/12/2012 18:37
Mel your comments are totally unacceptable. When Israel was conceived the first thing the Arab world told their people was to LEAVE the land as they were going to wipe Israel off of the map. Did any of these countries clean up the mess they made of the Palestinian people. NO. Stop blaming other people for the refugee problem and do something constructive about it. Stop preaching hate.

9 ) Reader / from Edmonton
19/12/2012 21:50
Israel was not conceived: it was declared to exist within 1947 UN borders. Those are Israel's only legal borders. The balance is Palestine.

10 ) Outlier / USA
19/12/2012 23:57
Sorry Mel, Arnold got this one right.
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