London-based Arab language daily Asharq Al-Awsat reported Saturday that the leadership of Palestinian Islamic Jihad had moved from Damascus to Tehran due to the ongoing fighting in Syria.

Palestinian sources told the newspaper that the terrorist group’s leader, Ramadan Shallah, was working mainly from Iran, and that his deputy had been there for weeks. They stressed that the move did not indicate any break between the organization and the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

An Islamic Jihad representative in the Gaza Strip denied the report.

Over 17,000 people have been killed in the 16-month long conflict in Syria, which is now being widely described as a civil war. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimated earlier this week that approximately 120,000 Syrian refugees were in neighboring countries, and another 1 million citizens were displaced internally in the war-torn country.