Abbas urges Assad to ‘not drag Palestinians into Syria fighting’

17-12-2012 12:00 AM

Ammon News - By AL ARABIYA

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has spoken out against the Syrian regime’s shelling of the Yarmouk refugee camp on Sunday.

The camp was bombarded by a Syrian warplane, killing at least 25 people, according to activists at the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Abbas condemned Damascus for its shelling of the Yarmouk, urging "All parties involved in the Syrian conflict to refrain from harming our people in the refugee camps. Don't drag them into your fighting."

The leader said it was a “great concern” that the Palestinian people were “being forced into the unfortunate conflict in Syria."

Yarmouk, in southern Damascus, is part of an arc sweeping from the east to southwest of the Syrian capital where Assad’s forces have been trying for several weeks to push back rebels from the gates of his power base.

Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi held the Syrian government responsible for launching air raids on the Yarmouk camp, killing and wounding dozens of Palestinians. She described the attack on the camp as a “brutal massacre,” according to comments published in the Jerusalem Post late Sunday.

On Sunday, Syrian warplanes also bombarded the nearby districts of Al-Hajar al-Aswad and Assali, scene of intense fighting between troops and rebels, it added.

“The army feels it has to step up its campaign to suppress the insurgency in southern Damascus, and that it cannot fight off rebels without resorting to air power,” said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.

“As for the Palestinians, they are divided over the conflict, and are fighting on both sides,” he added.

Although the watchdog reported the attack as a first on the Yarmouk camp since the start of Syria’s more than 21-month conflict, in August, the Observatory said at least 21 civilians were killed in shelling of the camp by the Syrian regime forces.

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