Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has spoken out against the Syrian regime’s shelling of the Yarmouk refugee camp on Sunday.
The camp was bombarded by a Syrian warplane, killing at least 25 people, according to activists at the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Abbas condemned Damascus for its shelling of the Yarmouk, urging "All parties involved in the Syrian conflict to refrain from harming our people in the refugee camps. Don't drag them into your fighting."
The leader said it was a “great concern” that the Palestinian people were “being forced into the unfortunate conflict in Syria."
Yarmouk, in southern Damascus, is part of an arc sweeping from the east to southwest of the Syrian capital where Assad’s forces have been trying for several weeks to push back rebels from the gates of his power base.
Residents of a Palestinian camp in Damascus were fleeing on Monday amid fresh clashes, as Syrian warplanes raided the eastern outskirts of the city to try to quash the rebellion in the capital, a watchdog said.
Clashes renewed Monday in the Yarmuk refugee camp in southern Damascus between pro-regime Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command and rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad's forces, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Residents and the Britain-based Observatory said people in the camp were fleeing en masse for other parts of Damascus, while others scrambled to find safety elsewhere.
One resident, Issam, told AFP news agency he was unable to return home on Sunday to Yarmuk "because of the fighting that took place in most of the streets and the snipers."
He said he spent the night in his office, and on Monday took his wife and children to stay with relatives near Damascus.
Another resident reported hearing the sound of a MiG warplane flying over the camp on Monday.
East of the capital, warplanes attacked the Eastern Ghuta region, while smoke was seen rising from nearby Zamalka, which was also raided by jets, the Observatory said.
Military reinforcements were seen travelling from Mazzeh military airport west of Damascus to Daraya farther south.
Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi held the Syrian government responsible for launching air raids on the Yarmouk camp, killing and wounding dozens of Palestinians. She described the attack on the camp as a “brutal massacre,” according to comments published in the Jerusalem Post late Sunday.
On Sunday, Syrian warplanes also bombarded the nearby districts of Al-Hajar al-Aswad and Assali, scene of intense fighting between troops and rebels, it added.
“The army feels it has to step up its campaign to suppress the insurgency in southern Damascus, and that it cannot fight off rebels without resorting to air power,” said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.
“As for the Palestinians, they are divided over the conflict, and are fighting on both sides,” he added.
Although the watchdog reported the attack as a first on the Yarmouk camp since the start of Syria’s more than 21-month conflict, in August, the Observatory said at least 21 civilians were killed in shelling of the camp by the Syrian regime forces.