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Fear Spreads Through Palestinian Camps in Syria

by FRANKLIN LAMB

Yarmouk Palestinian camp, Damascus

Close to 50,000 children from Yarmouk Palestinian camp in Syria have fled Syria, being among the more than one million other children according to Palestinian Popular Committees in the Damascus-Homs area and head of U.N. children’s agency UNICEF, Anthony Lake, said in a statement. Roughly 75% of the Palestinian youngsters fleeing Syria are under the age of 11.  They make up a large portion of the UNHCR refugees population that has now exceeded one million who have fled Syria and the two million children who are internally displaced,. than two million children have been driven from their homes in the face of the conflict, which has morphed into a vicious, sectarian civil war.

Problem for Palestinians fleeing Syria continue at the Syria-Lebanon Masnaa crossing, adding to the number of Palestinian children who are homeless and without encouraging prospects of finding shelter or school enrollment, as classes begin next month. Approximately 8000 children, younger than fifteen, have been killed so far in the 30 month civil conflict in Syria.

Palestinian Popular Committee in al-Yarmouk Camp as well as the other twelve camps (two “unofficial” ) have reported both directly and indirectly to this observer that they posess information that clearly suggests  the possibility, indeed probability, of a terrorist use of chemical weapons in the Camp, calling the Palestinian factions to take preemptive steps to prevent that.

The Popular Committee  inside the “free” area of Yarmouk, pockets inside the eastern edge of the camp, advised in a statement, “in the framework of agitating the political and media war against the government of Syria, channels of destruction and sedition have started to air misleading propaganda, claiming that the Syrian Arab Army would fire  mortars and or missiles into the Camp with chemical gases, whereas these elements themselves are planning chemical attacks to blame the government much as what happened in Irbin.”

The Committee added “those who invaded and destroyed the Camp after having displaced its residents would not hesitate to use the meanest ways of killing and destruction to fulfill the U.S.-Zionist goals.”

The statement, the first draft being written by advisers to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine,-GC, led by Ahmed Jabril, a staunch supporter of Syria’s President Bashar Assad.

It is the PFLP-GC, which was rocketed by Israel on 8/22/13 in the area of  An official with the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC)  a missile hit said the missile struck just meters from the entrance to one of a series of underground tunnels belonging to the PFLP-GC in the valley.  a valley in Naameh, an area 15 kilometers south of Beirut, where the Palestinian group maintains a military base.

Israel said the attack was in retaliation for Thursday’s rocket attack from Lebanon into the Jewish state and it was launched just two weeks after a blast wounded four Israeli soldiers in Lebanon off the border town of Labbouneh, which Hezbollah has claimed responsibility for.

An official with the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC)  a missile hit said the missile struck just meters from the entrance to one of a series of underground tunnels belonging to the PFLP-GC in the valley.  a valley in Naameh, an area 15 kilometers south of Beirut, where the Palestinian group maintains a military base.

Israel said the attack was in retaliation for Thursday’s four rocket attack from Lebanon into occupied Palestine. The PFLP-GC source denied  immediately denied that there was a link between the early morning air raid in Naameh and the rocket attack on  Israel the day before.

Palestinian camp officials, as with various medical  groups are  growing frustrated with the lack of U.N. activity from chief inspector Ake Sellstrom  and his delegation who are spending time in their 5-star hotel lobby and swimming pool which  is only a few kilometers from Ghouta Yarmouk and the nearby attack area. “|What are they waiting for?”  Is a commonly expressed derisive sentiment heard this morning near the alleged CW use site at Irbid. “One Palestinian youngster told this observer, “They can give me their equipment and I will gather evidence for them if they are too busy.”  Residents in the Damascus surburbs and Yarmouk,  seem to be relieved that  Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov  has just urged the Syrian government to allow in the UN inspectors without delay to thoroughly investigate this crime.

Palestinian sentiment expressed to this observer by refugees in Damascus and Homs, on the subject this crime against humanity, appears to agree with the Syrian government position that  allegations of Syrian military involvement are probably false and often  point to the illogical timing of the attack, just days after the arrival of the inspectors, as evidence that they were probably not responsible.

This initial tentative conclusion could change.  Near Irbid, one now hears estimates of more than 1,500 killed with more and more victims being discovered.  At press time, he Unified Medical Bureau for Eastern Gouta, is citing even higher figures.  One Palestinian member of Yarmouks Popular Committee, whose family village in near Safad, pointed to the location of the attacks,  being rebel strongholds in the Ghouta agricultural belt east of Damascus  and the areas of Irbin, Jobar, Zamalka and Ain Tarma as well as the town of Muadhamiya which is maybe five miles south.

One reason the casualties figures are so high people from the gassed areas explain, is due to lack of air conditioning, most residents in this area sleep with their windows opened and victims died in their beds during the early morning attack.

As of early morning 8/23/13, many of the remaining Palestinians in Yarmouk are seeking somewhere to flee to, visibly afraid that chemical weapons will be used in Yarmouk in the coming days.

Franklin Lamb is doing research in Syria and Lebanon and can be reached c/o fplamb@gmail.com

 

Franklin Lamb is a visiting Professor of International Law at the Faculty of Law, Damascus University and volunteers with the Sabra-Shatila Scholarship Program (sssp-lb.com).

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