Thousands Trapped Inside Syria’s Yarmouk Refugee Camp As ISIS Takes Over

Reuters, By Oliver Holmes, April 4

Beirut – Islamic State has taken control of 90 percent of a Palestinian refugee camp on the Damascus outskirts where 18,000 civilians have suffered years of bombing, army siege and militia control, a monitoring group said on Saturday.

The hardline group’s offensive in Yarmouk gives it a major presence in the capital. Islamic State, the most powerful insurgent group in Syria, is now only a few kilometers from President Bashar al-Assad’s seat of power.

The United Nations has said it is extremely concerned about the safety and protection of Syrians and Palestinians in the camp. Civilians trapped there have long suffered a government siege that has led to starvation and disease.

“The situation in Yarmouk is an affront to the humanity of all of us, a source of universal shame,” U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) spokesman Chris Gunness said.

“Yarmouk is a test, a challenge for the international community. We must not fail. The credibility of the international system itself is at stake,” he said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict from Britain, said Syrian air force jet bombed the camp on Saturday.

Electronic Intifada: “Catastrophe” in Yarmouk as ISIS seizes camp

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  • ISIL takeover of Palestinian camp in Syria a ‘siege within a siege’

    For almost two years, rebel-held Yarmouk camp in Damascus has been suffocating under a regime stranglehold.

    Al Jazeera, By Michael Pizzi, April 8

    For the last remaining Palestinian residents of Yarmouk Camp in Damascus, this week’s takeover by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant is a “siege within a siege.”

    For almost two years, the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has been suffocating rebel-held Yarmouk, a Palestinian refugee settlement turned residential neighborhood just 10 minutes from the heart of the Syrian capital.

    Water has been cut off entirely, available only when aid groups sneak it in, while medical and food supplies are scarce. Once known as the capital of the Palestinian diaspora, Yarmouk’s pre-war population of 180,000 has shrunk to just 18,000, with about 200 people starving to death since the regime blockade began in 2013, the United Nations says.

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