Civilians flee Yarmouk camp in Damascus amid clashes
Civilians in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in Syria’s capital have escaped the site amid intense fighting between Palestinian forces and Takfiri ISIL terrorists.
Activists in Syria made the announcement on Saturday, with Damascus-based Palestinian official, Khaled Abdul-Majid, saying that the ISIL terrorists are in control of about half of the camp, which is located on the outskirts of Damascus.
The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, meanwhile, said the extremist group now controls 90 percent of the Palestinian refugee camp.
ISIL militants launched an attack on the camp on April 1 and are said to be cooperating with rival militants from the al-Qaeda-affiliated group of al-Nusra Front, despite the fact that the two groups are engaged in clashes with each other elsewhere in Syria.
The United Nations says nearly 18,000 civilians, including a large number of children, are caught in Yarmouk.
Residents of the besieged Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in Damascus, Syria, queue to receive food supplies on January 31, 2014.
Once a very thriving place hosting tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees as well as Syrians, Yarmouk has turned into a ghost town as a result of violent attacks by anti-government militants over the past four years of turmoil in Syria.
ISIL was in control of the camp until 2014, when a deal with the government saw the group withdraw. The Syrian army has since then besieged the camp as it has turned into a major bastion for spreading anti-government militancy by al-Qaeda-linked groups.
Activists said on Saturday that Palestinian forces have started a counteroffensive in a bid to force Takfiri militants from the camp.
The violence fueled by Takfiri groups, including ISIL, in Syria has claimed the lives of over 215,000 people since March 2011, according to reports.
New figures show that over 76,000 people, including thousands of children, lost their lives in Syria last year.
Over 3.8 million Syrians have left their country since the beginning of the crisis. More than 7.2 million Syrians have also become internally displaced, according to the United Nations.