Syrian journalist Matar Ismail has confirmed to al-Souria Net that ISIS has seized 95 percent of Yarmouk refugee camp in southern Damascus. The camp has witnessed days of fierce fighting between ISIS fighters and armed Syrian opposition factions.
Matar explained that large numbers of the camp’s remaining residents have begun moving to the town of Yalda since the morning. Matar said the town’s local council has temporarily put the displaced families inside a school.
Matar explained in a statement to al-Souria Net that the Nusra Front has cooperated with ISIS to prevent the arrival of opposition fighters to the camp. Matar said: "Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis Brigades (which are fighting ISIS) are trapped in the vicinity of Salahuddin Mosque north of the camp, while the Army of Islam, Sham ar-Rasoul Brigade and Jaish al-Ababil are attempting to enter the camp from the town of Yalda, but Nusra and ISIS are very well prepared for the battle with a strong line of defense”. Matar predicts the battle to expel ISIS from the camp will be a long-term one.
In an official statement to al-Souria Net, Army of Islam spokesman Capt. Islam Alloush said that Nusra fighters in Yarmouk refugee camp have joined ISIS. Alloush claimed Nusra was fighting beside ISIS against the opposition forces, pointing out that Nusra fighters have facilitated ISIS' entry into the camp.
For his part, the Chairman of the Department of Refugee Affairs in the Palestine Liberation Organization, Zakaria al-Agha, confirmed that ISIS has seized most of the southern parts of the camp, noting that between 16,000 to 20,000 Palestinians resided inside the camp prior to its storming by ISIS. Agha claims a total of 160,000 Palestinians were living inside Yarmouk camp prior to the outbreak of the Syrian revolution in March 2011.
While confrontations between the opposition and ISIS fighters continue, the Assad regime continues to exploit the situation, as Matar reports regime forces have regained control of ash-Shuhadaa sector in the northeastern part of Yarmouk’s main street, adding that regime forces are targeting all neighborhoods of the camp with explosive barrels, in exception for ISIS locations.
Palestinian factions inside the Gaza Strip called on international organizations to do their humanitarian duty and immediately intervene to help the Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk camp. The factions also called on the Arab League and the Islamic Conference Organization to take action to stop the sufferings of the Palestinians inside the camp.
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer