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Palestinians Flee to Lebanon After Jet Bombs Syria's Largest Refugee Camp


World  (tags: Syria bombs Palestinian Refugee Camp )

Beth
- 638 days ago - guardian.co.uk
Thousands of Palestinians in Syria are fleeing Damascus after an attack on the country's largest refugee camp, according to survivors who have reached Lebanon. Some of those who have made it to the relative safety of Beirut claim the attack marks a



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Beth S. (326)
Wednesday December 19, 2012, 7:25 pm
Some of those who have made it to the relative safety of Beirut claim the attack marks a "historical moment" in the Syrian war that has shattered the regime's claim to be a patron of resistance against Israel.

The fallout from the attack on the Yarmouk refugee camp in south-west Damascus on Sunday night is now reaching beyond Syria's borders, with Lebanon and Jordan braced for a fresh refugee crisis.

About 1,000 Palestinians had reached Lebanon less than 48 hours after a Syrian jet bombed a mosque and a school inside Yarmouk camp, the first time the large, sprawling section of the capital had been targeted from the air and only the second time it had been struck since the civil war began. The air strike is believed to have killed about 25 people and wounded several dozen more.

The new arrivals say they fear that authority in the Syrian capital is starting to crumble. They are now openly hostile towards a regime that had long portrayed itself as the protector of the 500,000 Palestinians living in Syria, most of whom had called Yarmouk home until now.

"No Palestinian will trust them anymore after what they did on Sunday," said Abu Khalil, a father of three who has taken refuge in the infamous Beirut refugee camp Sabra-Shatila. "All of us accept that blood has been drawn between us and the regime. There is a debt to settle. It will never be like it was."

Abu Khalil and his extended family of 15, now refugees for a second time in a lifetime, say the attack has repulsed Palestinians who had enjoyed the patronage of the Assad regime for more than 40 years but had increasingly been expected to openly align with them.

Abu Khalil offered an account of what took place on Sunday in the hours before the attack and in the frenetic aftermath, which has led to unprecedented criticism of the regime from most Palestinian factions.

"Since the summer, the two intelligence bases in the camp, air force intelligence and political security, were opened as recruitment centres for anyone who wanted to join Ahmed Jibril," he said. "Anyone who did was given a gun."

Ahmed Jibril runs the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine–General Command, a faction that has remained loyal to the Assad regime and is hostile to the main Palestinian organisational body, the PLO.

"There had been no fighting inside the camp at all until Sunday," he said. "There were clashes on the outskirts, but the Free Syria Army had not entered the camp at all. They only came in after the air strike."

About 3,000 members of the Free Syria Army and the al-Qaida-aligned Jabhat al-Nusra are now inside the camp, Abu Khalil said. He claimed only 500 residents remain, with most having sought refuge in homes, schools and mosques elsewhere in Damascus.

Jibril had about 1,000 armed men but only 150 of them were fighting with him on Sunday," he said. "They fled after a few hours.

"Some of the rebels who came in after the attack spoke with strange dialects. Others had beards, like jihadists. They were all telling us not to worry. It was the first time we had seen any opposition member in Yarmouk."

Abu Khalil's mother, who called herself Um Hassan, said warnings broadcast from mosques in Yarmouk early on Sunday had given residents two hours to leave.

Many had done just that, she said. However, others had sought refuge in a mosque and remained behind. Syrians who had fled from battlezones elsewhere in Syria were staying in a nearby school. They also chose to stay. Both groups were hit by bombs dropped from jets.

"We left at 7am on Monday and got to Sabra-Shatila at 3.30am [on Tuesday]," said Abu Khalil. "It was the biggest humiliation I have ever felt. We left with only the clothes on our backs.

"Three weeks ago we watched the ugly scenes as the Israelis bombed Gaza. We know what to expect with them. But I can't describe the feeling of Muslims attacking Muslims. It was a historical moment."

Palestinian leaders in Lebanon say they are bracing for the arrival of 50,000 refugees from Yarmouk, an influx that would seriously strain resources inside the country's 12 established camps. Such numbers could also potentially upset the delicate sectarian balance in the still-brittle country, where sect numbers are bitterly contested and often used as political tools.

Unlike in Lebanon, Syria's Palestinians had largely enjoyed equal rights as citizens, with access to homes, healthcare and other trappings of state.

Their treatment has often been showcased by regime officials as a sign of Syria's support for a people who have remained at odds with their sworn enemy, Israel. The regime's far-reaching support for Hezbollah has been the second dimension of its resistance credentials.

The Yarmouk attack is also being seen as a turning point by senior Palestinian officials in Lebanon. Qassem Hassan, the general secretary of the PLO in Sabra-Shatila, said: "We sense a very bad smell to this. Why this is happening, we can't understand. The PLO had taken a position not to support the regime or the other side.

"We did not interfere in the affairs of Syria and they shouldn't have interfered in ours. A volcano has erupted here. Is this part of a plan to reorganise the Middle East? We don't know. But it is a very big event."
 

Lee Hampton (15)
Wednesday December 19, 2012, 7:32 pm
Where is the outcry?

Why did Syria have any Palestinian refugee camps? Why didn't they let the Palestinians out of the camps and integrate into a multicultural country like Syria?
 

Patricia Martin (19)
Wednesday December 19, 2012, 7:33 pm
Only when the Israelis defend themselves.
 

Cheryl O. (82)
Wednesday December 19, 2012, 8:26 pm
Wow, seems the whole planet is fighting something very dark!
 

Nancy Black (302)
Wednesday December 19, 2012, 9:32 pm
Noted, tweeted, tweeted, and shared. Lots of hate; lots of blood, not much tolerance. The Palestinian refugees must feel they are in Catch 22. Damned if they stay and damned as they try to escape.
 

Stan B. (124)
Thursday December 20, 2012, 12:29 am
No Arab country gives a rat's ass about the Palestinians. They are totally expendable.
 

Rob and Jay B. (120)
Thursday December 20, 2012, 2:59 am
It must be a 'Zionist' plot! :) Where are the usual Israel/Jew haters on this one? You can bet they'll be blaming it all on 'Zionists'. They are always strangely silent about all the atrocities committed by Muslims. That doesn't fit their agenda.
 

Sue H. (7)
Thursday December 20, 2012, 10:17 am
Heartbreaking.
 

Past Member (0)
Thursday December 20, 2012, 3:16 pm
more of the same. when will people learn that harming and killing is anti-spiritual in ll ways?
 

Aletta Kraan (146)
Thursday December 20, 2012, 6:44 pm
Terrible !!!!!
 

Kathleen B. (37)
Thursday December 20, 2012, 8:15 pm
Who benefits from having Al Queda in Syria? Why, if Al Queda terrorists have attacked US, why have they never once attacked Israel?
Al Queda, first we like them, yea!! they'll fight the Taliban
then we don't like them
Now we're in bed with them again, what kind of lunatics benefit from all this destruction & chaos? Certainly not Bahar Assad. Certainly not Gahdaffi, certainly not Saddam Huessien. Who does that leave?
 

Colleen L. (2)
Thursday December 20, 2012, 8:34 pm
WIsh all of the hatred that is in and around the woirld would vanish. I'm sick of it. People need to brainwashed with love. So they will only think and practice peace and love. Thanks Beth
 

Stan B. (124)
Friday December 21, 2012, 1:02 am
Kate B. Was that supposed to be a serious comment? The reason Al Qaeda haven't been able to launch a successful attack against Israel is because Israeli security is the best in the world.
Your post is naive in the extreme. You don't understand the machinations of Islamic tribalism.
 

Vivien Green (150)
Friday December 21, 2012, 2:42 am
Noted with great sadness.
Thank you Beth.
 

paul m. (93)
Friday December 21, 2012, 5:26 am

Sadly noted
 

Alexander Werner (53)
Friday December 21, 2012, 6:16 am
Kate B,

Al-Queda people did attack Israel in the past. Stan right, Israel keeps an eye on Islamists and grounds them in time, but still some of them do their crimes.
 

Kathleen B. (37)
Saturday December 22, 2012, 7:07 pm
Whatever, I'm commenting on the information available in msm. First they tell us CIA created Al Queda, funded them & armed them.
Then they turn against us or we turn against them. Whatever, it is all a pack of propaganda & lies. War a la Madison Avenue.
Oh please if Israel had been attacked by Al Queda we'd know it, the world wide press would be screaming, Another Terror Attack directed at the only democracy in the Middle East.........
 

Alexander Werner (53)
Tuesday December 25, 2012, 2:39 pm
Kate, it did, see CNN which is politically correct to be anti-Israel enough:

Al Qaeda-inspired group claims responsibility for border attack:
http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/23/world/meast/israel-egypt-border-attack/index.html

Islamist lobby in Washington is powerful enough to make Obama arm Islamists and do quite a few other things.
 

Kathleen B. (37)
Tuesday December 25, 2012, 3:35 pm
Thanks for the link Bob. I'll concede the point as my speakers are unplugged due to outlet shortage on surge protector, so I don't know if I'll ever get around to watching CNN (which I consider almost a propaganda arm of the US gov.) has very low credibility in my neighborhood.
Bob, I'm awash in emails and I'm drowning, glug, glug, glug kateb.
 

Klaus Peters (12)
Wednesday December 26, 2012, 1:04 am
Rule by division here, and very successful. It might stop an all out war.
 

Suheyla C. (229)
Tuesday January 1, 2013, 9:24 am
noted
 
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