Syria: Yarmouk camp ''liberated'' from pro-Assad militias

After gov't bombing, Palestinian leader arrested

17 December, 15:38

(ANSAmed) - BEIRUT, DECEMBER 17 - Syrian rebels claim to have ''liberated'' the Palestinian refugee camp Yarmouk from the presence of militias answering to Syrian president Bashar Al Assad, including those of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLP-GC) under Ahmad Jibril.

The announcement came via a statement issued by the Unified Command of the Free Syrian Army. The rebels have also released an amateur video (http://youtu.be/qksiVGdUIps), the authenticity of which cannot be confirmed, in which some of them are seen going into a basement where there are writings praising the PFLP. The rebels claim to have found weapons and munitions. For the first time in Syrian history, yesterday the government Air Force bombed a Palestinian refugee camp, hitting a number of civilian houses in Yarmouk with air strikes. The attack may have been in response to an attempt by rebels to expel Jibril's militias from the camp. However, PFLP-GC sources report that Jibril had been placed under house arrest by the regime after attempting to flee Syria, and say that he was moving towards direct confrontation with the Syrian regime. As was confirmed to ANSA by Beirut-based PFLP-GC sources who have defected from the militia allied to the Syrian regime, Syrian authorities had stopped Jibril from fleeing to Lebanon and put him under house arrest in Tartous, along the Mediterranean coastline. The news was released yesterday evening following violent, unprecedented fighting in Yarmouk between rebels and militias answering to the regime. The sources say that yesterday Jibril and his closest collaborators had asked the Syrian authorities to be allowed to flee to Lebanon to ''save their lives'', but that they had been stopped from doing so. Those working most closely with Jibril have also reportedly been placed under house arrest. Palestinian media have published detailed reports on yesterday's massacre of civilians and said that after the fighting half of the population had been displaced. Overall, the newspaper Al-Ayam estimates that 36 Palestinians lost their lives when Syrian fighter jets carried out an air strikes on buildings inside the refugee camp, including the mosque Abdel Qader al-Husseini.

Thirteen other Palestinians were killed yesterday by the Bashar Al Assad's Army in other locations in Syria, according to the newspaper. The secretary of the Palestinian Liberation Front's executive committee Yasser Abed Rabbo placed ''the entire responsibility for the massacre'' on Assad's regime, and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas has asked the UN and the Arab League to protect the Palestinian population in Syria. Last month, the PLO said that 600 Palestinians had lost their lives during the civil war in Syria. According to media outlets in the Occupied Territories, Palestinians in Syria have tried to keep out of the fighting.

However, today harsh accusations have been been leveled at Jibril, who - in the eyes of some op-ed writers - ''dragged'' the Yarmouk camp into the downward spiral of violence. The air strike on the Yarmouk refugee camp has also been condemned by the spokesman for the Hamas government in Gaza, Taher a-Nunu, on behalf of Ismail Haniyeh. ''Palestinian blood is not shed in vain,'' said a-Nunu, thereby marking further distance between Hamas and the Assad regime, with which it had had good relations until a few months.

The bombing of the Yarmouk camp has also been condemned by Arab League Secretary General Nabil El-Arabycch, who said that it was ''a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law.'' (ANSAmed).

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