Refugees Flee Camp as ISIS, Syria Fight

Yarmouk situation is degenerating rapidly
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 5, 2015 11:07 AM CDT
This picture taken on Jan. 31, 2014, shows residents of the besieged Palestinian camp of Yarmouk, queuing to receive food supplies, in Damascus, Syria.   (AP Photo/UNRWA, File)

(Newser) – Hundreds of residents of a Palestinian refugee camp in the Syrian capital Damascus fled today after shelling by government forces and clashes between Islamic State fighters and Palestinian militants, activists said. An activist said many residents started fleeing the Yarmouk camp after midnight as the fighting let up. The camp has been subjected to intense shelling and airstrikes by the government. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said those who fled the camp have reached rebel-controlled suburbs in southern Damascus. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that residents of Yarmouk have been victimized by Syria's civil war, and that "we pay the price," adding, "We are in touch with our brothers there to find a way out and protect our people."

Islamic State militants stormed the camp on Wednesday, marking the extremist group's deepest foray yet into the capital. Palestinian officials and Syrian activists said they 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. The Nusra Front said today that it is not participating in the battles and is taking a neutral stance. The Observatory said the fighting has killed 26 people. A rep for a group that backs President Bashar al-Assad said several pro-Assad factions have united to defend the camp. He said more than 100 civilians have been either killed or kidnapped by ISIS fighters who now control about half the camp. (Read more al-Yarmouk refugee camp stories.)

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