Syrian regime intensifies assault on Palestinian refugee camp

Syrian regime intensifies assault on Palestinian refugee camp
3 min read
25 April, 2018
Syrian regime forces continue pushing through Yarmouk refugee camp, intensifying bombardment in a bid to recapture remaining parts not under Assad's control.
Thousands have fled over the years as the humanitarian situation has grown more dire [Getty]
Fighting continues in southern Damascus on Tuesday, where 18 pro-Syrian regime fighters were killed, a monitor said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday that this brings the number to over 52 pro-regime fighters killed in a week of military campaign against Yarmuk and adjacent neighbourhoods

The monitor added that in the same period at least 35 jihadist fighters had been killed.

There are an allegedly one thousand IS fighters left inside the enclave in the capital's southern neighbourhoods, which include Yarmouk and the adjacent districts of Hajar al-Aswad and Qadam.

Backed by airstrikes and artillery fire, soldiers pushed out a fresh advance in Qadam on tuesday during an organised press tour. Columns of black smoke could be seen rising from destroyed buildings, reported an AFP correspondent.

According to SANA, a state news agency, five civilians were killed Tuesday when a mortar shell crashed into a market area.

Fighting intensified as the Islamic State group attempts a final desperate defence of one of its very last bastions in the country. The extremist group is estimated to hold five percent of the country's territory.

Once a thriving district home to some 160,000 Syrians and Palestinians, Yarmouk has been devastated by more than five years of clashes and a crippling government siege.

Thousands have fled over the years as the humanitarian situation has grown more dire.

IS overran most of Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in 2015 and al-Qaeda's former Syrian affiliate maintained a small presence there until it withdrew a few weeks ago.

Both the Damascus neighbourhood and the nearby Yarmouk camp are the last parts of the capital not under President Bashar al-Assad's control.

This month, the regime recaptured the formerly rebel-held Damascus enclave of Eastern Ghouta after airstrikes followed a ground offensive. The Syrian regime also reportedly used chemical weapons against civilians in Douma, Eastern Ghouta's largest town.

US President Donald Trump ordered strikes against against three chemical weapons facilities in Homs, Syria on April 13, saying he held Assad personally responsible for reports of a chemical attack on April 7 that left at least 49 dead.

France and the UK joined the US in launching more than 100 missiles.

The Syrian regime has repeatedly denied using chemical weapons in Syria's now-seven-year-long war. However, a 2018 Human Rights Watch report found the regime responsible for the vast majority of 85 documented chemical weapons attacks between 2013 and 2018.

At least 170,000 civilians, including rebel fighters from the Jaish al-Islam group, left Eastern Ghouta as part of evacuation agreements penned during Assad's offensive.

The enclave had been home to 400,000 before the regime's Eastern Ghouta offensive kicked off on February 18.

More than 350,000 people have been killed since the uprising against Assad broke out in 2011 and millions have been displaced.