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‘Military operation needed’ in Syria’s Yarmouk

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A military operation is necessary to expel Islamic State militants from the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in south Damascus, Syria’s reconciliation minister said on Wednesday.

“The priority now is to expel and defeat militants and terrorists in the camp. Under the present circumstances, a military solution is necessary,” minister Ali Haidar said in Damascus.

He made the comments after meeting PLO official Ahmed Majdalani, who traveled from the West Bank for emergency talks on the situation in the embattled Yarmouk camp.

“It is not the state that has chosen this, but those who entered the camp,” added Haidar, referring to fighters from the radical group.

IS forces attacked Yarmouk on April 1, and have seized large swathes of the camp, executing Palestinian fighters who sought to resist.

The group’s presence in Yarmouk has sparked international concern for the camp’s remaining residents, who have endured repeated bombardment and a siege of more than 18 months by the army.

The nearly-impenetrable regime siege left about 200 people dead due to malnutrition and lack of medication, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

At least 40 people, among them eight civilians, have been killed in the fighting ensued since the arrival of IS to the camp, the Observatory said.

PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Saeb Erekat issued a statement Saturday decrying “the persecution and slaughtering of Palestinian refugees… in a conflict that isn’t theirs.”

“For four years now, al-Yarmouk refugee camp continues to be the victim of the internal Syrian conflict despite the repeated reiteration by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the vast majority of the Palestinian groups of our longstanding position of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states.”

In addition to the IS takeover of Yarmouk, the government and residents of the capital have also been rattled by the presence of IS radicals just miles from the heart of Damascus.

Haidar did not spell out when a military operation might begin, or how it would be waged, but he suggested that Syrian troops could be involved.

“The Syrian state will decide whether the battle requires it,” he said, when asked if Syrian soldiers would participate in any operation. MAANNEWS


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