Dubai: Warplanes bombed a Palestinian refugee camp in south Damascus on Sunday for the first time since the start of Syria’s more than 21-month conflict, killing at least 25 people.
The raid came hours after the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) made significant advances in the Palestinian Yarmouk camp where intermittent violence has been reported over the past few months. “There is a state of real war in the camp now,” Abu Mohammad was quoted as saying. “There are intense battles between the Free Syrian Army and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command [PFLP-GC],” a hardline Palestine group that has long been a Damascus ally. “The air strike happened because of the FSA’s advances in the camp,” he said. “The two are obviously linked.” Residents said that a missile hit the Abdul Qader Hussaini Mosque in the heart of the camp. The mosque was acting as a makeshift shelter for some 600 people forced to flee their homes in nearby districts engulfed in violence.
The PFLP-GC, headed by Ahmad Jibril, has sided with the regime of President Bashar Al Assad throughout the revolt, while some Palestinians have fought alongside the rebels. Some reports said Jibril left the camp along with his son on Saturday.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas appealed for an immediate halt to the firing on the Palestinian refugee camps in Syria. The Islamist Hamas movement also condemned the attacks, calling them a “crime.”
“We call on the warring sides in Syria to spare the Palestinian people and their camps in Syria,” he said in a statement carried by official Palestinian news agency WAFA, adding that bombing of the refugee camps “must be stopped immediately.”
Ezzat Al Rishq, of Hamas’s politburo-in-exile, described the attack on Yarmouk as a “crime.”
Meanwhile, Syrian warplanes bombed the town of Azaz close to the Turkish border, destroying at least five homes, causing hundreds of people to flee and stirring panic at a Syrian refugee camp just inside Turkey, Turkish officials said.
Most of the bombs hit the centre of Azaz, around three km from the Turkish border in an area dominated by Syrian rebels, but at least one landed 500 metres from Turkish soil, one official said.
In Aleppo, an Islamist faction of Syrian rebels captured an infantry base, its fighters said Sunday. It was the second major army installation the rebels overran in a week in Aleppo