“IS Militants ‘Enter Yarmouk Refugee Camp’ in Syrian Capital”
BBC News, April 1, 2015
“Islamic State (IS) militants have entered the Palestinian refugee camp Yarmouk in Damascus, activists and Palestinian officials say. Clashes erupted between the militants and groups inside the camp, with IS seizing control of large parts of the camp, reports said. … Yarmouk residents told BBC Arabic that members of Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis, a group formed by Palestinian militiamen opposed to the Syrian government, were leading the fight against the IS militants, along with some Free Syrian Army fighters. … First built for Palestinians fleeing the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, Yarmouk was once considered by many to be the de facto capital of the Palestinian refugee diaspora. Prior to the Syrian civil war, it had more than 150,000 refugees living there, and its own mosques, schools and public buildings.”
Quickie analysis: This development puts ISIS within a few kilometers from Damascus and in a position to capture international aid supplies which had been delivered to Yarmouk. It also underscores the complexity and fluidity of the situation in Syria: ISIS fighters reportedly entered Yarmouk with Jabhat al-Nusra fighters who had switched sides and are battling a pro-Hamas, anti-Assad Palestinian faction within Yarmouk that has teamed with some Free Syrian Army fighters while a pro-Assad Palestinian faction within Yarmouk sits it out and the government continues to lay siege to the camp itself. Not an April Fools’ joke.