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Islamic State retreats in Yarmouk, say Palestinians

Palestinians in Gaza protest against the violence in Yarmouk [Anadolu/Getty]

Date of publication: 11 April, 2015

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Islamic State (IS) forces have withdrawn from parts of Syria's Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus.

Islamic State (IS) forces have withdrawn from parts of Syria's Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus.

Palestinian activists inside the camp told al-Araby al-Jadeed that IS had started withdrawing its fighters from positions they had captured in the camp, which is still home to 18,000 Palestinian refugees.

IS fighters returned to their bases in the Hajar al-Aswad area and erected barricades around the part of the camp they still control.

     We don't want the Yarmouk Camp to become the field of military conflict.

- Yasser Abed Rabbo, PLO


A Palestinian source in the camp said the situation was relatively calm, although skirmishes were continuing between Palestinian forces and IS around the camp's main high school.

Palestinians in the camp have claimed that some fighters from Jabhat al-Nusra had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) and helped it enter the camp. A leader of Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis, a Palestinian militia linked to Hamas, threatened Nusra with revenge for fighting alongside IS.

Some positions that had been controlled by IS have now been handed over to fighters from Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham.

Meanwhile, pro-regime Syrian media has reported that the Syrian army had launched an operation against IS in al-Hajar al-Aswad, south of the camp.

Syrian regime forces and Iraqi militias control the southern parts of the Hajar al-Aswad as part of a siege imposed on the area south of the capital.

Syrian fighter jets have also bombed Yarmouk, damaging the Palestine Hospital and surrounding buildings.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) has rejected any military action in the Yarmouk Camp, contradiciting earlier statements offering support for such an operation.

"We don't want the Yarmouk Camp to become the field of military conflict," said Yasser Abed Rabbo, Secretary of the Executive Committee of the PLO.

Hanan Ashrawi, another member of the committee, told al-Araby al-Jadeed that the PLO had been making contact with other groups fighting in the camp to avoid further violence.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

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