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Syria minister urges military op. in Yarmuk

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This file photo shows Yermuk refugee camp on the edge of the Syrian capital, Damascus (photo by AFP)

The Syrian Minister of State for National Reconciliation Affairs said a military operation is necessary to expel ISIL terrorists from the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in south Damascus.

"The priority now is to expel and defeat militants and terrorists in the camp. Under the present circumstances, a military solution is necessary," Ali Haidar said after meeting with a delegation from the umbrella group of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

In this regard, Syria had earlier announced its readiness to offer Palestinians its firepower to support their battle with the ISIL Takfiri terrorist group, which controls more than 90 percent of the Palestinian refugee camp near the capital.

A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on April 7, 2015, shows Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Meqdad (C-R) meeting in the capital Damascus with a delegation from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) headed by Ahmad Majdalani (C-L). © AFP

ISIL, which currently controls parts of Iraq and Syria, launched an attack on the Yarmouk refugee camp in southwestern Syria on April 1. The United Nations has said nearly 18,000 civilians, including a large number of children, are caught in the camp. Palestinian fighters affiliated with the Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, have reportedly engaged in the battle to force the ISIL terrorists from the camp.

On Tuesday, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad met the Palestinian officials headed by Ahmad Majdalani.

"Syrian authorities are ready to support the Palestinian fighters in a number of ways, including militarily, to push ISIL out of the camp," said PLO official Anwar Abdul Hadi, who was at the meeting.

Mekdad said the "Syrian government had used all its efforts to present humanitarian and medical aid to Palestinian refugees and that it had helped them exit Yarmouk safely."

"Syria and the PLO are determined to fight terrorism, which has reached Palestinian camps in Syria, notably Yarmouk," he noted.

The development came as Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official Anwar Abdul Hadi announced on Sunday that nearly 2,000 people were evacuated from the refugee camp on Friday and Saturday.

According to Abdul Hadi, Syrian government troops had assisted in the evacuation of the residents of the camp as Palestinian forces continued the battle to hold off the Takfiri ISIL elements.

Yarmouk, once hosting tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees as well as Syrians, has turned into a ghost town as a result of the violent attacks by anti-government militants over the past four years of war in Syria.


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