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UNRWA concerned over fate of refugees in Yarmuk camp

01 May 2018

Ahead of the battle against IS, the terror group was offered a deal to evacuate to the remote part of the Syrian desert, as the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, which controls nearby areas such as Babila and Yalada, will evacuate to rebel-held areas in the northwestern province of Idlib.

The Syrian government and rebels reached an agreement to evacuate opposition fighters from an area near southern Damascus, state media said Sunday.

"The objective is to gradually retake segments of the area until it is all reconquered, as was the case in Eastern Ghouta", he said, referring to the last rebel stronghold near the capital that was seized by government forces last month.

The fate of hundreds of Palestinians, mostly sick and elderly women and children still in the camp that was once the largest in Syria, is uncertain.

President Bashar Assad's regime set its sights on the south of the capital after reconquering a major rebel bastion east of Damascus earlier this month.

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Fighting has also occurred in an area bordering Yarmuk camp and Hajar Al Aswad, "which the regime is trying to divide", Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told the media.

More than 5,000 civilians have fled the area in the face of intense shelling and aerial bombardment.

The reporter said the army's accurate surveillance operations on the terrorist groups' infiltration and movement routes have made terrorists a direct target for the army's heavy fire.

Syrian state television said the army was advancing towards Route 30 in Hajar al-Aswad.

Christopher Gunness, a UNRWA spokesman, said the plight of remaining civilians had worsened: "Many are sleeping in the streets, begging for medicine".

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"There is nearly no water or electricity".

In a joint report published last week with other watchdogs, Action Group for Palestinians of Syria said the camp had been targeted with at least two air raids every 90 seconds during the ongoing offensive.

The Syrian army has been on a crushing offensive with huge firepower against IS.

At least 3,500 Palestinian refugees from the camp have in the last week taken shelter in the nearby town of Yalda, according to UNRWA and a resident who confirmed the figure.

The camp has been under siege over the past few years at different times by Syrian forces, Islamic State and rebels.

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UNRWA concerned over fate of refugees in Yarmuk camp