A group of 14 Palestinian Arab factions said Thursday they backed a joint military operation with the Syrian government to expel Islamic State (ISIS) group jihadists from the Yarmouk neighborhood of southern Damascus.
After a meeting of the factions in the Syrian capital, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official Ahmed Majdalani said the groups supported a coordinated military effort in the camp.
The factions support “a security solution that will be carried out in partnership with the Syrian state and will have as its priority maintaining the security of citizens,” said PLO official Ahmed Majdalani, according to AFP.
“We agreed that there would be permanent cooperation with the Syrian leadership and the formation of a joint operations room with Syrian government forces and the Palestinian factions that have a significant presence in the camp or around it.”
Majdalani added that Palestinian Arab forces would work in an “integrated” fashion “with the Syrian state to clear the camp of terrorists.”
But it was unclear whether that position was shared by the Palestinian Arab fighters on the ground inside the camp.
The key Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis group fighting ISIS inside Yarmuk was not present at the meeting and could not be reached for comment.
The group is opposed to the Syrian government and has cooperated with rebel fighters against ISIS jihadists inside Yarmouk since the extremist organization entered the camp on April 1.
The Islamist terrorist group Hamas also did not attend the meeting, an official told AFP.
Majdalani said Palestinian Arab backing for a military operation was dependent on any action protecting civilian lives and infrastructure in the battered neighborhood.
“The action must take into account the lives of the camp’s citizens and avoid massive destruction. It will be carried out in a progressive fashion,” he said.
There were no further details on when any operation might take place and who would participate.
The ISIS conquest of Yarmouk has been garnering widespread media coverage, with the news generally referring to it as a “Palestinian refugee camp” – despite the fact that it was a normative and prosperous Damascus neighborhood.
The neighborhood is largely under the influence of Hamas, with senior officials of the terrorist group being among those targeted for executions and beheadings by the ISIS forces who have captured Yarmouk in recent days.
In response, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has offered the Palestinian Arab forces in Yarmouk military aid in trying to repel ISIS from the neighborhood.
The move came after the the PLO sent a delegation to Syria to build support for Yarmouk.
“Syrian authorities are ready to support the Palestinian fighters in a number of ways, including militarily, to push ISIS out of the camp,” said PLO official Anwar Abdul Hadi earlier this week.