|Photo by: REUTERS/Abdalghne Karoof|
PLO denounces Assad for Palestinian ‘massacre’
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
PA responds to Syrian fighter jet attack on Yarmouk camp, killing 25, to urge int'l community to protect Palestinians living in Syria.
Senior PLO leaders in Ramallah accused the Syrian regime of perpetrating
massacres against Palestinians on Sunday, following some two dozen deaths in the
Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus.
PLO Executive Committee member Hanan
Ashrawi held the Syrian government responsible for launching air raids on the
Yarmouk camp, killing and wounding dozens of Palestinians. She described the
attack on the camp as a “brutal massacre.”
PLO secretary-general Yasser
Abed Rabbo also blamed the Syrian regime for targeting the refugee
“We hold [President] Bashar Assad and his regime fully responsible
for this crime,” Rabbo said. “Obviously, this regime knows no boundaries when it
comes to pursuing its murderous and destructive policy.
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Sunday that he was “very worried” by
the killings in Yarmouk, but stopped short of blaming any party for the
Abbas, who is currently visiting Italy, called on the warring
parties in Syria to avoid involving the Palestinians in their conflict. He also
urged the international community to move quickly to protect the Palestinians
living in Syria.
Reuters reported that Syrian jets fired at least two
rockets at the camp, home to approximately 50,000 Palestinians, for the first
time since the revolt against Assad erupted last year and evolved, after he
tried to smash it with military force, from peaceful street protests into an
The news agency quoted activists as saying that dozens
of people were killed when at least one rocket hit a mosque in the camp
sheltering refugees who fled the violence in nearby suburbs of
Some reports said at least 25 people were killed in the air
A video posted on YouTube showed bodies and body parts scattered
on the stairs of what appeared to be the mosque.
terrorist group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General
Command, which is based in the camp, has been fighting alongside Assad’s forces
against the rebels.
The group’s leader, Ahmed Jibril, recently fled the
camp together with his son. The two are believed to be hiding in the city of
Tartous, a stronghold of Assad’s Alawite minority.
The Iranian Fars News
Agency quoted witnesses as saying that Syrian rebels, and not Assad’s forces,
were behind the attack on Yarmouk.
The agency said that some 600
terrorists entered the camp and opened fire on everyone, which led to the
killing and injury of many people. According to the witnesses, the terrorists
killed tens of Syrian civilians.
Syria is home to more that 500,000
Palestinian refugees, most living in Yarmouk, and both Assad’s government and
the rebels have enlisted and armed Palestinians as the uprising has grown into a
Heavy fighting broke out 12 days ago between Palestinians
loyal to Assad and Syrian rebels, together with a brigade of Palestinian
fighters known as Liwaa al-Asifah (“The Storm Brigade”).
Rebels said they
seized a Syrian army infantry college near the northern city of Aleppo after
five days of fighting with forces loyal to Assad.
A commander from the
Islamist Tawheed Brigade said his men helped take the building on
“At least 100 soldiers have been taken prisoners and 150
decided to join us. The soldiers were all hungry because of the siege,” he
Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese Shi’ite terrorist
movement Hezbollah, said on Sunday that the rebels in Syria could not emerge
victorious from the uprising against Assad.
“The situation in Syria is
getting more complicated [but] anyone who thinks the armed opposition can settle
the situation on the ground is very, very, very mistaken,” said Nasrallah, a
staunch ally of Assad.
Syrian rebels accuse Hezbollah of sending fighters
into the country to help Assad overcome the largely Sunni revolt. Hezbollah has
denied the accusations.
“I warn al-Qaida: The Americans and the European
countries and Arab and Islamic countries have set a trap for you in Syria, and
opened for you a battlefield so you come from across the world... to be killed
and to kill each other,” he said.
Reuters contributed to this report.