First Published: 2015-04-01

ISIS captures Yarmuk refugee camp in Damascus
ISIS militants capture 'majority' of Palestinian refugee camp in southern Damascus, engage armed Palestinian groups as they move closer to the seat of the Assad regime.
Middle East Online

BEIRUT – On Wednesday militants from the Islamic State jihadist group seized control of most of the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp in southern Damascus, a local Palestinian official told AFP.

"Fighters from IS launched an assault this morning on Yarmuk and they took over the majority of the camp," said Anwar Abdel Hadi, director of political affairs for the Palestine Liberation Organisation in Damascus, claiming that fighting in the camp was continuing through pockets of resistance among Palestinian militants. Syrian activists and a Lebanon-based TV station reported that, after entering from Hajar Aswad (the southern Damascene neighbourhood completely controlled by armed rebels) IS militants engaged in combat with Palestinian groups within the camp – who are also opposed to Bashar al-Assad’s regime - in an attempt to secure its capture. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, confirmed that IS now controls a "large part" of the camp after clashes broke out with members of the Palestinian faction Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis.

Yarmuk was once a thriving neighbourhood home to 160,000 Palestinian refugees and Syrians but has been caught up in the country's fighting and besieged by regime forces for more than a year. Only about 18,000 residents are estimated to remain in the camp since many have fled after months of being caught between government forces and Syrian insurgents including al Qaeda's Nusra Front. The siege has caused significant shortages of food, water and drugs inside the camp.

Syrian rebels had withdrawn from the camp in February 2014 under a deal that left only Palestinian anti-regime groups inside. IS, which has seized control of large parts of Syria and Iraq, has fought not only against the Assad regime but also against other rebel groups as it seeks to expand the territory under its control.

This marks the deepest infiltration yet by IS militants into Damascus, which has remained a fortress for the Assad regime. Their capture of the Yarmouk camp places them in a better position to challenge President Bashar Assad’s stranglehold of Syria and threaten his seat of power.


Turkey says not reassured by US comments on border force

Trump dashes Netanyahu’s hope to move US embassy to Jerusalem

IS poses threat to Iraq one month after 'liberation'

Britain to put women at heart of peace work in Iraq, Nigeria, South Sudan

Bitcoin appeal beats ban and warnings in Jordan

UN chief wants to revive Syria gas attack probe

US has no intention to build border force in Syria

Lebanese intelligence service may be spying using smartphones worldwide

Egypt's Sisi sacks intelligence chief

Cyprus denies bail for Israeli organ trafficker

Rising Yemen currency sparks hopes of relief

Turkish ministries to investigate underage pregnancy cover-up

Iraq PM launches online appeal for election allies

Iran central bank sees claim for billions from German stock market blocked

Iraq signs deal with BP to develop Kirkuk oil fields

Israeli occupation forces raid Jenin, kill Palestinian

HRW chief says 'Nobody should be forcibly returned to Libya'

Seven years since ousting dictator, Tunisians still protest

Iran says Trump jeopardising Airbus deals

China says Iranian oil tanker wreck located

Sudan arrests communist leader after protests

Syrian opposition joins condemnation of US 'border force'

Israeli judge detains teen until trial for viral ‘slap video’

Arab league slams US freeze of Palestinian funding

Dubai billionaire to sell 15 percent Damac stake

Saudi to give Yemen government $2bn bailout

US withholds $65 million from UN agency for Palestinians

Saudi Arabia intercepts new Yemen rebel missile attack

Syria Kurds vow to cleanse enclave from Turkish 'scourges'

Israeli police find missing Briton’s belongings in desert

Algeria gas plant workers mark five years since jihadist siege

UN says over 5000 children killed or injured in Yemen war

European leaders’ response to Iran protests raises questions

Erdogan to visit Pope Francis next month

Iran slams US-backed 'border security force' in Syria

Palestinian suspension of Israel recognition unlikely for now

Jordan to hike fuel, bread prices

Yemen rebels free journalist detained since August

Palestinian reconciliation brings no change for Gazans

Sudan police use force, tear gas against protesters

Both hardliners and moderates have failed Iranians

Erdogan says Turkish military op in Syria's Afrin to be supported by rebels

UAE to lodge complaint over Qatar flight 'interception'

UN says 22 million Yemenis in need of aid

Minorities in north Iraq look to post-jihadist future