Last updated: 16 December, 2012

Halt firing on Palestinian camps in Syria

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas appealed on Sunday for an immediate halt to firing on Palestinian refugee camps in Syria, after air strikes on the Yarmuk camp in Damascus killed at least eight civilians.

The Islamist Hamas movement, whose leadership-in-exile was based in Damascus until a recent falling out with Syrian authorities, condemned the attacks, calling them a “crime.”

“We call on the warring sides in Syria to spare the Palestinian people and their camps in Syria,” Abbas said in a statement carried by official Palestinian news agency WAFA, adding that bombing of the refugee camps “must be stopped immediately.”

“We also call on the international community to take immediate action to provide protection to our people in Syria,” Abbas said, adding that the Palestinians were “not involved” in the conflict.

In a statement on his official Facebook page, Izzat al-Rishq, of Hamas’s politburo-in-exile, described the attack on Yarmuk as a “crime.”

“We strongly condemn the continued exposure of Palestinian camps in Syria to targeting, aggression and bombing,” he wrote, under the headline: “On the crime of the targeting of Yarmuk camp by warplanes.”

In the Gaza Strip, Hamas government spokesman Taher al-Nunu said in a statement that Palestinians should be left out of the Syrian conflict.

“We condemn targeting Palestinian refugees in Yarmuk refugee camp in Syria by warplanes, in which there were martyrs and injured,” he said. “We call to stop targeting our people and to keep them away from what is happening in Syria.”

Sunday’s air strikes on Yarmuk were the first against Palestinian refugee camps in Syria, which have long been strongholds of militant groups closely allied with Damascus.

The camp did come under mortar fire earlier this year, something Abbas described at the time as “heinous.”

Yarmuk is home to more than 112,000 Palestinians. According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), there are altogether 486,000 Palestine refugees living in nine official and three unofficial camps across Syria.