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Palestinian aid convoy arrives in Damascus

Aug. 9, 2012 6:23 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 11, 2012 3:36 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A convey of aid from the Palestinian Authority has arrived in Palestinian refugee camps in Damascus, the PA ambassador to Syria said Thursday.

Mahmoud al-Khalidi told Ma'an that 17 trucks of medicine, wheat and food staples were welcomed by representatives of 15 Palestinian factions, scouts, the local UNRWA director and Ali Mustafa, the director of the Arab Palestinian refugees commission.

A committee of Palestinian faction has been formed to distribute the aid, working in coordination with refugee committees and UNRWA.

The situation in Palestinian refugee camps is calm at the moment, al-Khalidi said. "We should understand that Palestinians are not targeted in Syria because of their nationality," he added.

An official donations drive netted around $650,000 worth of food and medical aid from Palestinian companies, businessmen, and individuals during the charitable month of Ramadan.

A one percent cut of salaries from the Palestinian Authority's cash-strapped public sector went toward the convoy.

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.

"We are not a part of this conflict," said Mohammad Shtayyeh, head of the aid campaign.

Around 400 Palestinians have been killed in Syria so far, mostly by snipers, Shtayyeh said. Anti-Assad activists and sympathetic Western and Arab governments say about 20,000 people have been killed since the revolt began 18 months ago.

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.

Reuters contributed to this report.
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