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Ex-Arafat aide: Foreign fighters infiltrate Syria camp

Jan. 5, 2013 12:17 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 6, 2013 1:23 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Foreign nationals fighting in Syria are using a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus as a base to fight the Syrian government, a Palestinian official said Saturday.

"We're calling committees in the camp and people there told us that foreigners are shooting at anyone that moves and they're using the camp and the people of the camp as shields to attack government forces," Bassam Abu Sharif, a former adviser to late leader Yasser Arafat, told Ma'an.

"We call on the UN to declare the camp as a disaster area and send international forces to protect civilians," a statement from Abu Sharif said.

The fighters belong to different Arab and European nationalities, he added.

In December, heavy fighting broke out in Yarmouk between Palestinians loyal to Assad and Syrian rebels, together with a brigade of Palestinian fighters known as Liwaa al-Asifah.

The fighting intensified with rebels gaining ground inside the camp, forcing Ahmed Jibril, a veteran PFLP-GC leader, to leave the capital with his son.

Syrian fighter jets fired rockets at the Palestinian camp on Dec. 16, killing at least 25 people sheltering in a mosque and causing most residents to flee the camp.

Those who were left behind suffer at the hands of militants who steal from them, burn down homes and harass the residents, popular committees said on Thursday, without detailing which armed groups were operating in the camp.

Syria hosts half a million Palestinian refugees, descendants of those admitted after the creation of Israel in 1948.
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