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Syria: Government forces shell Yarmouk camp district - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Rebel fighters take position on a front line in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus in this September 11, 2013, file photo. (AFP PHOTO/WARD AL-KESWANI)

Rebel fighters take position on a front line in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus in this September 11, 2013, file photo. (AFP PHOTO/WARD AL-KESWANI)

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—Syrian regime forces shelled the Yarmouk camp district in southern Damascus, home to the largest Palestinian community in Syria, on Thursday, four days after an agreement aimed to remove all combatants from the area was reached.

Several shells landed in Al-Yarmouk Street as civilians were removing sandbag barricades used by rebels fighting the regime of Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad.

Several people were reported injured.

Earlier this week, sources from the area told Asharq Al-Awsat that Assad regime forces and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) had begun implementing the terms of a deal to “open a safe corridor for civilians” and “remove weapons and insurgents from the camp in preparation for the return of the displaced people and the reconstruction [process.]”

A refuge for FSA fighters, the district has been under siege by regime forces and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) for four months.

The agreement was reportedly brokered by a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Zakaria Agha, who headed a delegation to Damascus earlier this month.

The delegation met with Syrian deputy foreign minister Faisal Al-Miqdad and the head of the security forces, Ali Mamluk.

Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat a Palestinian activist from the camp, Mohamed Al-Makdisi, said that according to the agreement, FSA and regime fighters will be expelled from the area to be replaced by a 500-strong force armed with light weapons.

The agreement “bans regime forces from entering the camp for any reason,” he added.

According to Makdisi, anti-regime slogans are being removed from the walls in the camp and a “security committee comprised of the PLO and the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine will oversee the implementation of the terms of the agreement.”

Senior Fatah sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Damascus gave the PLO delegation guarantees against breaching the agreement and agreed it would not prosecute those who hand over their weapons.

In another development from Syria, clashes between Islamist fighters and regime forces surged in the Qalamoun region to the north of Damascus.

The flare-up of violence came only days after troops loyal to Assad recaptured the nearby strategic town of Qara.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), there was an “increased pace of clashes in Qalamoun between Islamist factions, including Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and the regime forces around the town of Nabak and in Deir Atteiya.”

The UK-based monitoring body said that there were several deaths among regime forces.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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