Less than two weeks after a surprise ISIS push into the Yarmouk Refugee Camp in metro Damascus, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is reporting that ISIS has virtually captured the whole camp away from al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra, which has held it for months.
The PLO estimates ISIS controls some 90% of the camp at this point. They did not have a toll on the fighting in the camp, but did say that five civilians had been killed within the camp over the course of the fighting.
Though initially created as a camp for Palestinian refugees and still housing a large number of them, at the start of the civil war Yarmouk was practically a suburb of Damascus, housing some 160,000 civilians, both Palestinians and Syrian citizens. The bulk of the population has left, as the camp has repeatedly traded hands among rebel factions.
The camp is seen as valuable to rebel factions both because of its proximity to the capital and it’s status as a well-known refugee camp, though the walls around the camp have so far kept it from being a very effective staging area for attacks on Damascus itself.