Throughout the Syrian Civil War, the Yarmouk Refugee Camp has been highly sought by rebel factions, as it would give them a major, walled stronghold in the capital city of Damascus. Today, ISIS is in control of much of it.
Rival Islamist group Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate, had held Yarmouk for months, but reports from the PLO suggest that some of the Nusra fighters within defected to ISIS, and backed by an influx of ISIS fighters, they quickly took the majority of the camp.
Though called a “refugee camp” and housing a large number of Palestinian refugees, Yarmouk was virtually a neighborhood of metro Damascus before the war, with a lot of Syrians living there as well. The camp was founded back when Israel expelled large numbers of Palestinians back in 1948.
The camp was one of the first areas around Damascus to fall to rebels when the civil war began, and while the Syrians living there fled elsewhere, most of the Palestinian refugees ended up fleeing abroad, heading to nations like Lebanon to escape the violence in the camp. The area is now sparsely populated, with only a few thousand civilians left, along with significant militant forces.
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