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Palestinian forces targeted in Syria explosion

March 17, 2012 7:18 P.M. (Updated: March 19, 2012 12:58 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- A vehicle belonging to the Palestine Liberation Army exploded in Damascus' Yarmouk refugee camp on Saturday, killing several people, sources in the city told Ma'an.

It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion, or who was behind it. Syrian authorities immediately cordoned off the area and prevented access to the site and photography. The number of casualties could not be independently verified from outside the country.

The explosion followed two large blasts targeting state security buildings in Damascus, killing security force personnel and civilians, which state television blamed on "terrorists" seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Syrian state TV did not confirm the blast in Yarmouk camp, which is home to the largest population of Palestinian refugees in Syria, lying 8 km from the center of Damascus.

The vehicle exploded near the headquarters of the General Command in the camp. The PLA was established as the armed wing of the PLO, but later integrated under Syrian military command and used to police refugee camps.

While PLA forces are historically linked to the military, a Damascus source noted security forces had threatened the camp just days earlier due to reported dissent.

A security official threatened to raid the camp due to Fatah's alleged support of demonstrations against Syrian leader Bashar Assad, sources in the camp told Ma'an this week.

“Yarmouk is not more precious than (Homs neighborhood) Baba Amro, and it will be raided if the demonstrations which Fatah movement organizes” continue, a security agent was quoted as saying.

Palestinians have not been spared the deadly violence rocking Syria as Assad battles a year-long uprising against his rule.

In August, a Syrian assault on the port city Latakia killed dozens of Palestinians in Ramel refugee camp, and the UN said thousands of refugees fled the violence.
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