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Syria accused of gassing Palestinian refugee camp

22 reported dead at Yarmouk camp in Damascus; scores of rebels reportedly slain in battles around capital

Fighting in the Yarmouk refugee camp, July 2013 (photo credit: AP)
Fighting in the Yarmouk refugee camp, July 2013 (photo credit: AP)

A camp for Palestinian refugees in Syria has been bombed by chemical weapons, a Syrian opposition group based in Turkey said.

The National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces said Sunday that the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus had been gassed by regime forces amid heavy fighting.

According to Israel Radio, at least 22 people were killed in the Sunday attack, the majority from inhalation of toxic gases, according to Palestinian sources cited in the report.

“[Bashar] Assad’s forces are using chemical and toxic gas bombs to shell the Yarmouk Palestinian Camp,” the opposition group said on its Facebook page. “The strategic, systematic use of chemical weapons in order to achieve military gains only proves the desperate state that Assad’s regime has reached.”

The umbrella opposition group condemned the attack and said it had video proof of the incident.

It also called for international intervention to “protect the civilians against Assad’s systematic use of chemical weapons… The Syrian Coalition reminds the US — that pledged a serious, strong response to Assad’s use of chemical weapons — of their obligations to protect civilians.”

Yarmouk, established in the 1950s in what was then the outskirts of Damascus, is today home to over 100,000 UNRWA registered Palestinian refugees.

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Assad’s forces are in the midst of a major offensive in the Damascus area. On Monday, Syrian activists said government troops had killed at least 75 rebel soldiers over 24 hours in battles for control of the capital.

The death toll reported by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights included 49 rebels killed in an ambush in Damascus’s northeastern suburb of Adra early Sunday. The group said an elite unit loyal to Assad ambushed the rebels as they were trying to push into the city.

Syrian state news agency SANA reported the ambush Sunday, without giving a casualty figure.

The Observatory reported that another 17 rebels died in fighting Sunday in central Damascus, while another nine were killed in its suburbs.

It was one of the deadliest days for the opposition in the 2-year-old conflict, which has killed over 93,000 people according to the UN.

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