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PFLP-GC protests leader's position on Syria

Aug. 7, 2012 9:35 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 8, 2012 10:21 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) – The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command in Palestine on Tuesday threatened to break from its central leadership in Damascus in protest over its leader's alleged failure to remain neutral in the Syrian war.

PFLP-GC Secretary-General Ahmad Jibreel has declared his support for embattled President Bashar Assad and recruited armed faction members allegedly to defend Palestinian refugee camps against rebel fighters.

The faction held a meeting on Monday and released a statement rejecting Jibreel's decisions and reiterating the group's position that Palestinian refugees must remain neutral in Syria.

Six members of PFLP-GC's central committee have resigned in protest over Jibreel's actions, central committee member Shawkat Hammad told Ma'an.

"The PFLP-GC was established to work for Palestine, and Ahmad Jibreel has recently been taking decisions individually without consulting the group’s leadership. If Jibreel wants to break away from the PFLP-GC, let him do that," Hammad told Ma'an.

Decisions must be made in line with the Palestinian consensus to remain neutral regarding conflicts inside Arab countries which host Palestinian refugees, Hammad added.

The director of the PLO's Damascus politburo Anwar Abdul-Hadi on Friday criticized Jibreel's decision to arm Palestinians in Yarmouk refugee camp.

Abdul-Hadi blamed Jibreel for recent events in Yarmouk, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus.

"The Yarmouk camp has not witnessed any tough events since the outbreak of the conflict in Syria, except in the last two months. The latest event was yesterday when 20 people were killed and about 65 were injured," Abdul-Hadi told Ma'an last week.

He explained that Thursday’s attack came after Ahmad Jibreel armed some men in the camp under the pretext of protecting the Palestinians: "We reject this completely because our protection is the responsibility of the state of Syria, and we are only guests there."

Asked about the number of gunmen Ahmad Jibreel recruited, Abdul-Hadi said it is in the hundreds.

Syria is home to nearly 500,000 UN-registered Palestinians, and their descendants, who were expelled or fled from their homes during the 1948 war of Israel's creation. Palestinians say an additional 120,000 Palestinians reside in Syrian cities.

Palestinians have largely stayed out of the war in Syria between President Bashar Assad's security forces and rebels trying to topple the government. Leaders have sought to avoid commenting on the situation and embroiling their exiles.

On Saturday, the PA ambassador to Damascus Mahmoud al-Khalidi told Ma’an: "We still maintain that Palestinian refugee camps remain neutral toward the Syrian conflict."

After meeting with all 15 Palestinian political factions in Syria, they agreed not to take sides in the conflict, he added.

Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank staged several rallies in past months against Assad's regime, and some mosque preachers have prayed for his removal in Friday sermons.
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