losangelesnewstoday.com May 20, 2018

Fighting continues between Syrian troops and Islamic State in Damascus

01 May 2018, 04:53 | Katrina Lee

Refugees caught in 'death camp' as Assad forces attack

UNRWA concerned over fate of refugees in Yarmuk camp

Syrian state media reported that IS shelling of the government-held neighborhood of Qadam in Damascus killed two children and wounded eight others.

The announcement comes more than a week into a government assault to oust Islamic State (IS) group militants from the capital's southern suburbs, including the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said pro-government forces took control of "buildings and streets in Hajar al-Aswad and Qadam after attacking the districts at dawn".

"The silence of the worldwide community to the war crimes being committed against defenseless Palestinians in a refugee camp in Syria is an insult", Abu Toameh wrote.

The reported deal is the latest in a series of such agreements that have seen the Assad regime retake areas near the capital.

At least 36 civilians have been killed in regime bombardment during the same period, it said.

Though originally a number of rebel groups were located in Yarmouk, ISIS has defeated the others and has been in control since 2015.

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"Yarmouk and its inhabitants have endured indescribable pain and suffering over years of conflict", said Pierre Krahenbuhl, UNRWA's commissioner-general.

The camp has been under a government-imposed siege since 2012.

Aid groups have decried the situation of Palestinian refugees and Syrians in the area, as activists accuse forces loyal to Assad of using surface-to-surface missiles, barrel and cluster bombs, as well as mortar fire. Al Jazeera reports more than half of the refugee camp has been destroyed. Opposition sources, cited by Reuters, claimed that the army was engaged in fighting with Islamic State militants on the outskirts of Yarmouk camp, where up to 2,000 militants are encircled.

Following their victory in capturing the rebel-held eastern Ghouta last month, regime troops have moved their focus towards Yarmouk and the surrounding neighbourhoods.

Syrian forces allegedly used chemical weapons during a seven-week standoff that resulted in an evacuation deal between Russian Federation and Jaish al-Islam, the last armed opposition group to have remained in Eastern Ghouta - which was under rebel-control since 2012.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has warned of a humanitarian disaster in the city.

Before the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Yarmouk was home to around 160,000 Palestinian refugees - people who had been displaced from their homes in modern-day Israel during the 1948 war, and their descendants.

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