April 9, 2015
By Brent Eng and Moatessim Jamal
AMMAN: While Palestinian militias inside Yarmouk have only a “symbolic” presence, they are still trying to drive out the Islamic State, now in control of at least 85 percent of the camp, a local anti-IS fighter told Syria Direct on Thursday.
“IS controls more than 85 percent of the camp and [the Palestinian militia group] Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis has a symbolic presence inside, but all possibilities are still open and nothing has been resolved yet,” Abu Baraa, a fighter on the southeast edges of the camp, told Syria Direct Thursday.
Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis fighters claimed that they are still in the camp in a video released over social media on Wednesday, the same day the regime dropped six barrel bombs on Yarmouk, which still has more than 10,000 civilians inside.
“We will defend Yarmouk Camp with our blood, our spirit and our sons,” says an Aknaf fighter in the video.
Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis, a known follower of the Palestinian political group Hamas, is the largest of several militia groups that had been vying for control of Yarmouk camp prior to IS’s incursion.
Volunteers clean the streets of Yarmouk camp on Thursday. Photo courtesy of Yarmouk Media Network.
“Currently, calm prevails in the camp,” says Abu Marem al-Jolani, the alias of a citizen journalist in Yarmouk, more a town than a camp, measuring 2 square kilometers.
“Families continue to flee to due to the deteriorating humanitarian situation and are escaping the [regime] barrel bombs,” he said.
The International Committee of the Red Cross called for access to Yarmouk camp on Thursday. No humanitarian aid has been delivered since the fighting began on April 1.
“People were already worn down by months of conflict and constant shortages of food, water and medicine and they need urgent help,” Marianne Gasser, the head of the ICRC in Syria, said in a statement Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Minister of Reconciliation called for a “military solution” in the camp on Wednesday, reported the London-based daily Al-Hayat.
IS won control of Yarmouk camp from Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis and other Palestinian militia groups last week, reportedly with the help of Jabhat a-Nusra.
The camp, once home to over 100,000 Syrian and Palestinians, has been encircled by regime and allied forces for two years.