Long confined to Syria’s north and east, ISIS has suddenly turned up in the capital city of Damascus, seizing most of the Yarmouk Refugee Camp, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria.
Before the civil war, Yarmouk was treated more or less as just a suburb in metro Damascus, in which some 200,000 people lived. Now, less than 15,000 remain, and the district has changed hands between pro-Assad Palestinian factions and rebel factions several times.
Now, it’s ISIS’ turn to make a run at the camp, and the PLO has confirmed that ISIS forces arrived quickly overnight, and began clashing with other factions therein.
It isn’t entirely a shock, analysts have been warning ISIS has been establishing sleeper cells around the capital for months, but the sudden takeover of the important camp is certainly not exactly something to have been expected.
Other rebel factions had aimed to use the camp as a staging ground for a siege on the secure portions of the capital, just a few miles away, though they were never able to pull this off. ISIS has been much more successful on the offensive, however, and could be a major blow to the Assad government.