PLO, Hamas-Allied Fighters Battle ISIS in Damascus Refugee Camp

A surprise Wednesday offensive by ISIS saw them taking a large portion of the Yarmouk refugee camp in metro Damascus, and on Thursday they’d lost most of it back in the face of opposition from Palestinian fighters.

Within hours, ISIS launched a counter-counteroffensive, and had regained portions of the camp that they’d lost, leaving them in control of an unspecified, but significant, percentage of it.

Before the civil war, Yarmouk was treated practically as a suburb of Damascus. The largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria, it had over 200,000 residents, though mass exoduses during the war have left only about 15,000 left.

The primary resistance to the ISIS takeover is the Palestinian Liberation Organization, though a key Hamas ally, Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis, has also attacked ISIS several times, pushing them back.

The camp’s value is in its proximity to Damascus, as control of it means control of an area just a few miles from central Damascus, and a potential staging area against Syrian forces in the capital. Thus far, it is the only significant ISIS move into metro Damascus, with their possessions overwhelmingly in the north and east.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.