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Palestine groups back Syria operation in Yarmuk

Major Palestinian groups have endorsed Syrian government operation to clear ISIL terrorists from Yarmuk refugee camp, saying they share a common objective with Damascus in fighting the Takfiri group.

An official in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) said Thursday that a group of 14 Palestinian factions have backed a joint military operation to expel ISIL terrorists from Yarmuk.

“We agreed that there would be permanent cooperation with the Syrian leadership and the formation of a joint operations room with Syrian government forces and the Palestinian factions that have a significant presence in the camp or around it,” Ahmed Majdalani said after a meeting between the factions in the capital Damascus.

A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on April 7, 2015, shows Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Meqdad (C-R) meeting in the capital Damascus with a delegation from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) headed by Ahmad Majdalani (C-L). (© AFP)

The PLO official added that the Palestinians support “a security solution that will be carried out in partnership with the Syrian state and will have as its priority maintaining the security of citizens.”

Majdalani said the Palestinians would work in an “coordinated and integrated” manner with the Syrian army to expel the terrorists from the refugee camp, which is located south of the capital Damascus.

The development comes as a minor group of armed Palestinians militants, known as Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis, continues fighting ISIL inside Yarmuk.

Once a very thriving place hosting tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees as well as Syrians, Yarmouk has turned into a ghost town as a result of violent attacks by anti-government militants over the past four years of turmoil in Syria. Around 20,000 people still remain in the camp, a tiny portion of the initial 160,000 Palestinian refugees residing in the area.

ISIL was in control of the camp until 2014, when a deal with the government saw the group withdraw. The Syrian army has since then besieged the camp as it has turned into a major bastion for spreading anti-government militancy by al-Qaeda-linked groups.

The violence fueled by Takfiri groups, including ISIL, in Syria has claimed the lives of over 215,000 people since March 2011, according to reports. Over 3.8 million Syrians have left their country since the beginning of the crisis. More than 7.2 million Syrians have also become internally displaced, according to the United Nations.

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