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PLO denounces Assad for Palestinian ‘massacre’
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
12/16/2012
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 camp.

“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.

Palestinian 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 attack.

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 armed insurgency.

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 Damascus.

Some reports said at least 25 people were killed in the air strike.

A video posted on YouTube showed bodies and body parts scattered on the stairs of what appeared to be the mosque.

The Palestinian 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 civil war.

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 Saturday.

“At least 100 soldiers have been taken prisoners and 150 decided to join us. The soldiers were all hungry because of the siege,” he added.

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.
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