Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Syrian rebels take control of Damascus Palestinian camp

18 December 2012, 13:34

Beirut - Syrian rebels took full control of the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp on Monday after fighting raged for days in the district on the southern edge of President Bashar al-Assad's Damascus powerbase, rebel and Palestinian sources said.

The battle had pitted rebels, backed by some Palestinians, against Palestinian fighters of the pro-Assad Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC). Many PFLP-GC fighters defected to the rebel side and their leader Ahmed Jibril left the camp two days ago, rebel sources said.

"All of the camp is under the control of the (rebel) Free Syrian Army," said a Palestinian activist in Yarmouk. He said clashes had stopped and the remaining PFLP fighters retreated to join Assad's forces massed on the northern edge of the camp.

The battle in Yarmouk is one of a series of conflicts on the southern fringes of Assad's capital, as rebels try to choke the power of the 47-year-old leader after a 21-month-old uprising in which 40,000 people have been killed.

Government forces have used jets and artillery to try to dislodge the fighters but the violence has crept into the heart of the city and activists say rebels overran three army stations in a new offensive in the central province of Hama on Monday.

On the border with Lebanon, hundreds of Palestinian families fled across the frontier following the weekend violence in Yarmouk, a Reuters witness said.

Syria hosts half a million Palestinian refugees, most living in Yarmouk, descendants of those admitted after the creation of Israel in 1948, and has always cast itself as a champion of the Palestinian struggle, sponsoring several guerrilla factions.

Both Assad's government and the mainly Sunni Muslim Syrian rebels have enlisted and armed divided Palestinian factions as the uprising has developed into a civil war.

'Neither side can win'

Syrian Vice President Farouq al-Sharaa said in a newspaper interview published on Monday that neither Assad's forces nor rebels seeking to overthrow him can win the war.

Sharaa, a Sunni Muslim in a power structure dominated by Assad's Alawite minority, has rarely been seen since the revolt erupted in March 2011 and is not part of the president's inner circle directing the fight against Sunni rebels. But he is the most prominent figure to say in public that Assad will not win.

Sharaa said the situation in Syria was deteriorating and a "historic settlement" was needed to end the conflict, involving regional powers and the U.N. Security Council and the formation of a national unity government "with broad powers".

"With every passing day the political and military solutions are becoming more distant. We should be in a position defending the existence of Syria. We are not in a battle for an individual or a regime," Sharaa was quoted as telling Al-Akhbar newspaper.

"The opposition cannot decisively settle the battle and what the security forces and army units are doing will not achieve a decisive settlement," he said, adding that insurgents fighting to topple Syria's leadership could plunge it into "anarchy and an unending spiral of violence".

Sources close to the Syrian government say Sharaa had pushed for dialogue with the opposition and objected to the military response to an uprising that began peacefully.

In a veiled criticism of the crackdown, he said there was a difference between the state's duty to provide security to its citizens, and "pursuing a security solution to the crisis".

He said even Assad could not be certain where events in Syria were leading, but that anyone who met him would hear that "this is a long struggle...and he does not hide his desire to settle matters militarily to reach a final solution."

In Hama province, rebels and the army clashed in a new campaign launched on Sunday by rebels to block off the country's north, activists said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition-linked violence monitor, said fighting raged through the provincial towns of Karnaz, Kafar Weeta, Halfayeh and Mahardeh.

It said there were no clashes reported in Hama city, which lies on the main north-south highway connecting the capital with Aleppo, Syria's second city.

Qassem Saadeddine, a member of the newly established rebel military command, said on Sunday fighters had been ordered to surround and attack army positions across the province. He said Assad's forces were given 48 hours to surrender or be killed.

In 1982 Hafez al-Assad, father of the current ruler, crushed an uprising in Hama city, killing up to 30,000 civilians.

Qatiba al-Naasan, a rebel from Hama, said the offensive would bring retaliatory air strikes from the government but that the situation is "already getting miserable".

- Reuters


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...