DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Pro-government gunmen advanced in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus on Friday, officials said.

Fighting in the camp broke out earlier this week. It has been mostly under rebel control since late last year.

Anwar Raja, a spokesman for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, said Friday the Palestinian Popular Committees want to “cleanse” the camp of “terrorist gangs.”

The PFLP-GC is close the Syrian government.

Khaled Abdul-Majid of the Popular Struggle Front, another pro-government faction, said Popular Committees have captured nearly a third of the mostly empty camp. Thousands of refugees have fled.

Earlier in the week, a Turkey-based opposition group said 22 people in the camp had been killed in a chemical attack. The report was never confirmed.

Since the start of the unrest, Syria’s half-million Palestinians have struggled to remain on the sidelines.

Still, some young Palestinian refugees have joined the rebels in the fight against President Bashar Assad’s regime.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.