Civilians flee as battle rages in Damascus

2015-04-05 20:28

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Cairo - Hundreds of civilians have fled a Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus amid a raging battle between Islamic State extremists and Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis, a rival Palestinian faction, a monitoring group said on Sunday.

Hundreds of others remain trapped in the Yarmuk camp, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

At least 26 people have been killed since the fighting started there on Wednesday.

The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, has called for an immediate cessation of fighting to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid.

"We demand humanitarian access and the establishment of secure conditions under which we can deliver life-saving humanitarian assistance and that enable civilians to be evacuated," the agency said in a statement.

The Islamic State jihadist group, which is active in Syria and Iraq, has seized most of Yarmuk in a bid to gain a foothold near the Syrian capital.

The Syrian regime has responded with airstrikes.

Yarmuk was home to some 150 000 Palestinian refugees before Syria's 2011 uprising. The figure has dwindled to 18 000, according to the UN.

For more than two years the camp has been under siege from Syrian government troops, who suspect that it is being used as a shelter for opposition rebels.

Read more on:    isis  |  syria

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