Why is the Yarmouk camp suffering? The true reasons, not western propaganda
Reading through western (and probably Gulf states) media these days one could think that Syrian President Assad and “his” army (otherwise known as the Syrian Arab Army) from one day to the next simply decided to destroy the Yarmouk refugee camp and kill its Palestinian inhabitants through a siege and bombardment.
The same sources go as far as claiming that the recent take over of the mostly abandoned camp through the IS militia even serves Assads interests.
The silly and easily refutable fairy tale of Assad secretly collaborating with IS is achieving sort of an “evergreen” status among many of the above mentioned media:
It´s time to shed some light on what has been going on in the Yarmouk camp since the beginning of the Syrian civil war.
Whenever western media reports of any places being shelled in Syria the impression is created that this can only have been the work of the Syrian Army. This is an early case of such shelling hitting the Yarmouk camp:
“Two mortar shells struck the camp in the early hours of Thursday from the nearby Tadamun distinct. The Syrian government said armed “terrorists” were behind the carnage…An alleged opposition battalion, Saif Al-Islam, reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that the Palestinians in Yarmouk camp are in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government.”
So, at first the rebels attacked the camp claiming that it´s Palestinians are “guilty” by being supporters of Assad. Then they infiltrated the camp and began “arming sympathetic Palestinians to fight a pro-Assad faction in a Palestinian enclave in Damascus“.
It is clear that the rebels, the so called “moderates” of the FSA brought trouble to the camp:
“Residents at Yarmouk…said gunmen had been seen in the streets and some people kidnapped in recent days, eight of whom had been killed. It was not clear who was responsible.
A bomb exploded on Wednesday under the car of a Syrian army colonel in Yarmouk, although he was not in the vehicle, the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. A Syrian rebel commander claimed responsibility, calling it a “gift to Jibril’s people which will be followed by others”.”
Another resident confirms the assertion regarding the FSA being the harbinger of problems, devastation and suffering:
“Muhammad Tamim and Iptisam and their two adult children fled their home not far from the Palestinian Yarmouk camp in Damascus four months ago. Their parents and three elder children are still there.
“As soon as the FSA enters an area, the combat units follow and engage in action. There’s no way we can live in the middle of a battlefield. Syria is headed towards a catastrophe,” said Muhammad”
As early as January 2013, foreign fighters were seen in the camp hiding among civilians in order to attack the Syrian forces:
“Foreign nationals are using the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in Damascus as a base to fight the Syrian government, a former adviser to late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said Saturday.
“We’re calling committees in the camp and people there told us that foreigners are shooting at anyone that moves,” Bassam Abu Sharif told Palestine’s Ma’an news agency.
“They’re using the camp and the people of the camp as shields to attack government forces.””
Another report from the same time (and more than 2 years ago from now) mentions the presence of Al Qaedas Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al Nusra (Nusra Front):
“Some fleeing Palestinians refugees at the Maznaa crossing mention that they fear that al-Qeada affiliates are taking over Yarmouk camp and want to establish an Islamic emirate…But there are sections where the Al Nusra Front is very much in control and are actively setting up social service centers and training bases for arriving recruits from a number of countries as well as, regrettably, some Palestinians…”
A further confirmation from January 2013: “Nusra was at the forefront of fighting in that city’s Yarmouk district.”
Accusing the Syrian Army of systematically starving the Yarmouk camp people are misleading. Due to its vicinity to the center of Damascus and the heavy presence of Al Nusra and other radical groups the Syrian Army has cordoned off the northern entrance to the camp, while the rebels control the southern entrance and the adjacent districts such as Tadamon or Hajar al Aswad. Yarmouk is thus a huge risk factor for the government. Under such circumstances every army has to take strict measures to minimize the danger of attacks, infiltration and weapons smuggling into the capitals inner ring.
Nevertheless the Syrian Army has on several occasions evacuated people from Yarmouk to safe areas and attempted to bring in aid convois which was prevented and sabotaged by the REBELs:
“The convoy was cleared to proceed beyond the checkpoint and the Syrian authorities provided a bulldozer to go ahead to clear the road of debris, earth mounds and other obstructions.
The bulldozer was fired upon, hit by direct gunfire and forced to withdraw, though with no casualties. Thereafter, bursts of gunfire, including machine-gun fire, erupted close to the trucks and UNRWA vehicles, suggesting a firefight.
Also, one mortar exploded very close to the convoy. The convoy withdrew at this point following the advice of the security escort and returned safely to Damascus.”
The strategic geographic position of the camp is highlighted again here:
“The Islamist armed groups of the opposition saw the camp as the Syrian government’s Achilles’ heel and nothing else, a prize-catch in their desperate quest to “conquer” Damascus; the perfect springboard for their intended “jihad” against the regime’s main stronghold, practically putting a target on the camp’s back and turning its entire refugee population into a huge block of human shields held hostage to the flick of these groups’ military whims…The armed opposition’s all-guns-blazing infiltration into, and subsequent control over Yarmouk in late 2012 has plunged its Palestinian refugees headfirst into the throes of the Syrian war; transforming the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria into a “hostile territory” for the Syrian Army…For the Al-Nusra front and other Islamist fighting militias; taking control over the camp was primarily a matter of scoring territorial advances against the “infidel” regime, it constituted the closest front they’ll ever manage to get to Damascus, only this “pyrrhic victory” has had the camp caught in a tight militaristic death-grip where foreign backed insurgents are wreaking doomed havoc inside the camp (including looting, arbitrary seizure of properties and taking on human shields), and the Syrian army is giving the area the full “military-zone” treatment; imposing a full-fledged siege on most parts of the camp, particularly its northern entrance which connects directly to Damascus. ”
The same article raises a valid question: Why are the militants inside the camp well-armed and well-fed and apparently not suffering from hunger and thirst while the civilians have been dying?
“the curious fact remains that while the civilian population is suffering the lashes of hunger, thirst and dwindling medical supplies, militants inside the camp appear to be largely unaffected by the siege. On the contrary these groups seem to be well-armed, fully weaponized (at least to the extent that
enables them to retain full military control over the majority of the camp despite the ongoing siege) and on multiple occasions have even instigated clashes and firefights with the Syrian army.
This begs the question: what prevents these militants from using their own supply routes and active ammunition channels to soften the impact of the regime-imposed siege on the civilian population inside the camp, keeping in mind that areas bordering Yarmouk from its southern entrance are controlled by the “rebels” themselves? “
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