BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The Islamic State militant group in Syria is using heavy weaponry and artillery in ongoing fighting in the beleaguered Yarmouk refugee camp, a PLO official said Sunday.
Ahmad al-Majdalani, the PLO envoy to Syria, told Ma’an that despite heavy fighting with the Syrian army IS have maintained their positions in the camp and have redeployed to arrange future attacks.
“Political solutions regarding the Yarmouk crisis are over as IS has closed all doors on any political solution and is currently gathering its forces in the Yalda area in Syria in preparation to attack the camp,” the official said.
Al-Majdalani, who returned from Syria at the weekend, will meet with President Abbas upon his return from Moscow to discuss the crisis.
Pierre Krahenbuhl, who heads the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA, on Monday called on all sides to respect the beleaguered civilians trapped inside Yarmouk.
“The Syria conflict has a human face. These are individuals with a dignity and destiny that must be at the center of our responses as we grapple with the complexities of protecting civilians, in Yarmouk and beyond.”
Yarmouk, which is Syria’s largest refugee camp lying seven kilometers south of Damascus, was initially attacked by IS on April 1, and the group subsequently took over the majority of the camp.
Although hundreds of residents have been evacuated, up to 18,000 residents remain trapped inside the camp, which has been besieged by the Syrian army for more than a year.
The camp was once home to 160,000 people, Syrians as well as Palestinians, but its population has dwindled since the uprising erupted in March 2011.
Although the PLO has publicly rejected Palestinian involvement in a military campaign, citing a longstanding policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of Arab nations, on Saturday Majdalani said the situation was out of the hands of the Palestinian leadership.
He told Ma’an that the resort to military action had been imposed on Palestinian groups inside the camp.