Photo by: REUTERS/Jamal Saidi
PA heads to Syria to stop attacks on Palestinians
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
Delegation to ask Syrian gov't, rebels to leave Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp after dozens killed in fighting between two sides.
A high-level Palestinian Authority delegation headed to Damascus on Sunday in a bid to stop attacks on Palestinian refugees in Syria.
This is the first time that a PA delegation has visited Syria since the beginning of the crisis there two years ago.
Relations between the PA and the Syrian regime have deteriorated in the wake of the Palestinians’ failure to support President Bashar Assad in his war against the opposition.
Headed by top PLO official Zakaria al-Agha, the delegation is expected to discuss ways of stopping the fighting between Assad’s forces and the rebels in the Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus.
Dozens of Palestinian residents of the camp have been killed in fierce fighting that erupted between the two sides in recent weeks.
More than half of the camp’s 130,000 residents have fled their homes in the past two months, according to Palestinian sources.
The PA officials will ask both the Syrian government and rebels to withdraw their forces from the camp and its surroundings in order to pave the way for the return of the refugees to their homes, the sources said.
The officials are also expected to ask the Syrian authorities to restore PLO-owned buildings that had been confiscated by the Syrians over the past three decades.
The Syrians had confiscated the buildings and handed them over to Damascus-based Palestinian groups opposed to the PLO leadership.
The Palestinian delegation is also expected to visit tens of thousands of Palestinians who fled from Syria to Lebanon because of the fighting.
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