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Syria offers military help to Palestinians in Yarmouk camp

Damascus has promised weapons to Palestinians stranded in the Yarmouk refugee camp to stave off "Islamic State" terrorists. The European Union meanwhile has offered financial aid to help the remaining people in the camp.

Syria said Tuesday that it was ready to offer Palestinean refugees weapons to aid their fight against "Islamic State" (IS) terrorists, who seized parts of Yarmouk, a refugee camp barely seven kilometers (4.3 miles) outside Damascus, the Syrian capital.

Fierce clashes that marked the IS occupation of the area on April 1 ceased, but government forces continued to bomb the area. Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Meqdaq meanwhile said his government "had used all its efforts to present humanitarian and medical aid to Palestinian refugees" and helped them to exit the area. More than 2,000 refugees have fled the camp in the last few days.

Anwar Abdul Hadi, an official of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) told journalists: "Syrian authorities are ready to support the Palestinian fighters in a number of ways, including militarily, to push IS out of the camp."

Palestinian officials under the leadership of PLO's Ahmad Majdalani said that they had agreed with Damascus on a "unified position for Palestinian forces in Syria in coordination with the Syrian government." If finalized, the deal would represent a breakthrough, since most Palestinian refugees in the camp were against Syrian President Bashar al Assad's regime.

Jarmuk zerstörter Stadtteil Damaskus

More than 2,000 people have fled Yarmouk in recent days

EU offers aid

The European Union has meanwhile announced a sum of 2.5 million euros after the United Nations on Monday warned of a severe crisis in Yarmouk. "The suffering of civilians in Yarmouk camp is reaching intolerable levels," EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Christos Stylianides said, urging "all parties to the conflict to allow immediate and unconditional humanitarian access."

The money would enable the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to deliver life-saving assistance to thousands of people whose situation is getting

"more desperate than ever"

according to UNRWA head Pierre Krähenbühl.

The

United Nations Security Council on Monday demanded access to the camp

. Yarmouk had been the home of more than 150,000 Syrians and Palestinians, of which only 18,000 remain. Since 2012, the district has been under siege by government forces, putting severe pressure on the camp's health and medication systems.

mg/gsw (AFP, dpa)

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