Islamic State fighters entered a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus on Wednesday. Clashes with a Palestinian group were recorded. It is the deepest invasion yet by the extremist group into the Syrian capital, according to new reports.
Jordan reacted to the news by closing its only border crossing with Syria which was functional, after heavy clashes on the Syrian side between government forces and opposition militants.
Islamic State, who controls large parts of territory in northern Syria, penetrated the Yarmouk camp from the Hajar Aswad neighborhood. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights announced that the IS group took control of some large parts of the camp. Full control of the camp would mean a first step towards the heart Damascus, the capital of Syria.
The Observatory said heavy clashes took place in the camp between IS militants and fighters of an anti-Assad Palestinian faction named Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis.
Anwar Raja, the spokesperson for the pro-Assad Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, added that Islamic State fighters had been based in the Hajar Aswad neighborhood for the last few months. He explained that Wednesday’s push into the camp was a joint operation of IS and a rival group, the Nusra Front, which is al-Qaida’s branch in Syria.
“The Nusra Front opened the road for them in order to infiltrate the camp and several hours ago they entered Yarmouk,” Raja said by telephone, as quoted by the Associated Press.
Yarmouk, a Palestinian refugee camp in southern Damascus, has already been under siege, but by government forces, for nearly two years. U.N. aid workers have been sending aid to the camp, where thousands of desperate civilians live. The camp was a fighting scene in the past between government forces and militants who control much of the camp.
The U.N. agency that supports Palestinians (UNRWA) announced it is extremely worried about the safety of the Syrian and Palestinian civilians in Yarmouk, especially the children.
A spokesman for the rebel fighters in southern Syria, Issam al-Rayess, announced that militants were trying to gain control of the border crossing from Syrian authorities. The Nasib pass is the only working crossing between Jordan and Syria and is a very important gateway for Syria’s government and for Syrian, Jordanian, Lebanese merchants and traders.
A Syrian Foreign Ministry statement accused Jordanian authorities for “obstructing the movement of trucks and passengers and any ensuing economic or social repercussions.”
Image Source: The Telegraph