Battle of Yarmouk Camp (2015)

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Battle of Yarmouk Camp (2015)
Part of the Syrian Civil War
(Rif Dimashq Governorate campaign)
Battle of Yarmouk (2015) map.jpg
Map of the territorial control in southern Damascus during the battle, on 4 April 2015
  Controlled by the Syrian Government
  Controlled by the Syrian opposition
  Truce/ceasefire zones
Date 1–20 April 2015
(2 weeks and 5 days)
Location Yarmouk Camp, Southern Damascus, Syria
Result

Partial ISIL victory

  • 2,000 people were evacuated from the district[6]
  • Rebels repel ISIL attack on the al-Qaboun and Barzah districts[7]
  • Aknaf Bait al-Maqdis dissolves and joins Syrian government forces[1]
Territorial
changes
  • ISIL and al-Nusra Front initially seized 95% of the district,[8] gains later reduced to 40%[9]
Belligerents

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

al-Nusra Front[1][2]

Free Syrian Army
Jaysh al-Islam[3]

Aknaf Bait al-Maqdis Surrendered[1]
Syria Syrian Armed Forces
Emblem of the Palestine Liberation Army.svg Palestine Liberation Army[4]
PFLP-GC Flag.svg PFLP-GC[5]
Fatah al-Intifada[4]
Commanders and leaders
Unknown Zahran Alloush
(Jaysh al-Islam leader)
Abo Hammam
(Aknaf Bait al-Maqdis leader)[10]
Ahmad Zaghmout (WIA)
(Aknaf Bait al-Maqdis leader)[1]
PFLP-GC Flag.svg Ahmed Jibril (PFLP-GC leader)[11]
Units involved
Unknown Syria Liwa Sham al-Rasul[3]
Liwa al-Asifa[12]
Jaysh al-Ababil[13]
1st Brigade[14]
PFLP-GC Flag.svg Jihad Jibril Brigade
Popular Committee-Yarmouk Refugee Camp
Casualties and losses
80 killed[15]
(Jaysh al-Islam claim)
36 killed[4]
(PFLP-GC claim)
9–15 killed,[2][4] 10 captured[16] 5 killed[2]
8–13 civilians executed by ISIL[17][18]
38 killed overall (8 civilians; SOHR)[17]
4,000 civilians displaced[19]

The Battle of Yarmouk Camp (2015) is a battle that broke out in April 2015, during the Syrian Civil War, when the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant stormed the rebel-held Yarmouk Camp. The Yarmouk Camp is a district of Damascus that is home to the largest community of Palestinian refugees in Syria.[20]

Background

On 17 December 2012, the Free Syrian Army and anti-government Palestinians took control of the camp. After subsequent heavy fighting, the FSA and the Syrian Army agreed to leave Yarmouk as a neutral, demilitarized zone, but the camp remained besieged and sporadic clashes continued. Syrian government forces besieged Yarmouk for two years, and as a result, approximately 200 people were believed to have died of hunger in 2014.[21]

The battle

ISIL storms the camp

On 1 April, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militants entered the Yarmouk Refugee Camp from the Hajar Al-Aswad district, but were expelled the next day by Syrian and Palestinian rebels. However, ISIL re-entered the camp on 4 April and took control of 90% of it.[2][22] Local recruits were among the ISIL forces—having joined the militants due to anger at being starved by the Syrian government and disliking some of the rebel groups that controlled Yarmouk "for playing politics with the regime rather than confronting it."[23]

On 5 April, Jaysh al-Islam claimed that its fighters were refused access to the camp by al-Nusra Front and that al-Nusra allowed ISIL to enter the camp, which led to some defections from the first party.[3] The al-Nusra Front responded by defending its neutral stance in the conflict[24] and claimed to have mediated a ceasefire. It also denied rumors about the alleged defections.[25] Meanwhile, the Army bombed the camp with 13 barrel bombs.[26] A commander in the Aknaf Bait al-Maqdis was killed during clashes with ISIL.[27]

On 6 April, it was reported that about 2,000 people were evacuated from the camp since ISIL's attack.[6] The same day, pro-government Palestinian groups led by the Palestine Liberation Army, the PFLP, PFLP-GC and Fatah al-Intifada launched an assault against ISIL. They reportedly captured Morocco Street, Al-Ja’ounah Street and the Martyrs Cemetery and claimed to have killed 36 ISIL militant and controlled 40% of the Yarmouk camp.[4]

On 7 April, the fighting had ceased,[17] with ISIL in control of 95% of the camp.[8]

Rebel counterattack

On 12 April, Jaysh al-Islam and allied forces launched a counterattack on the ISIL-held Hajar al-Aswad district[28] and reportedly advanced.[29] Jaysh al-Islam also recaptured Al-Zein street in Yarmouk Camp from ISIL, during a nighttime operation.[30]

By 16 April, ISIL and al-Nusra were still holding 80% of the Yarmouk Camp, after clashes with Aknaf Bait al-Maqdis and other rebels.[31] Two days later, fighting between the rebels and ISIL expanded to the neighborhoods of al-Qaboun and Barzah. The rebels captured 9 ISIL militants[32] and killed 12 others.[33]

On 19 April, an activist reported that ISIL was planning to leave the camp, although they had not yet done so. He also revealed that most of the al-Nusra Front fighters in Yarmouk Camp had defected to ISIL, and that the two groups were closely collaborating in the area. By then, Aknaf Bai al-Maqdis had dissolved and joined Syrian Government forces.[1] By 20 April, the ISIL attack on the two districts had been repelled.[7]

Aftermath

After the retreat of ISIL from the al-Qaboun and Barzah districts, the UN continued trying to bring relief aid into Yarmouk Camp. However, the camp remained sealed off, and the relief workers were only able to deliver supplies to the communities outside of Yarmouk Camp.[34] ISIL control was eventually shrunk to 40% of the area, with another 20% being contested.[9] Meanwhile, talks continued for making the Yarmouk Camp a neutral region, with plans for the expulsion of all gunmen from the area.[35]

Fighting between ISIL and government forces continued in the camp into late May.[36] On 8 June 2015, Palestinian militias in Yarmouk Camp reportedly expelled ISIL from the area of Damascus.[37] However, three weeks later, it was revealed that Yarmouk Camp was still under siege by Syrian Army forces.[38]

Foreign reactions

  •  United States – State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf condemned ISIL's attack on the Yarmouk refugees camp.[22]
  •  Egypt – The Egyptian Foreign Ministry also condemned ISIL's attack and called for "an immediate end to the fighting in order to preserve the lives of civilians… and reiterates Egypt’s solidarity with our Palestinian brotherly-people."[39]
  •  United Nations – The UN Security Council demanded humanitarian aid access to the camp "for the protection of civilians".[40]

See also

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "'ISIS and Nusra are one' in Yarmouk Camp". Retrieved 19 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Master. "Jabhat al-Nusra and IS take control on 90% of the Yarmouk camp". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Retrieved 6 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Army of Islam on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 6 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Leith Fadel (April 6, 2015). "Complete Report from the Yarmouk Camp; Palestinian Resistance on the Offensive". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved April 6, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. AFP (17 December 2012). "Syria hits back at UN over Palestinian refugees". Syria. NOW. Retrieved 17 December 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 "2,000 civilians evacuated from Syria′s Yarmouk - News - DW.DE - 05.04.2015". DW.DE. Retrieved 6 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Syrian rebels defeat ISIS in Damascus". ARA News. Retrieved 9 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 Al-Souria Net. "ISIS Controls 95 Percent of Yarmouk Refugee Camp". The Syrian Observer. Retrieved 11 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  10. "Video- The War On Terror Continues- SAA ground-to-ground missile against ISIS Terrorists In Yarmouk Camp- Idlib, Hama, Qalamoun Mountains". Retrieved 4 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Corrections and clarifications". The Guardian. London. 17 December 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Jerusalem Post. "The PFLP-GC have accused the Liwa al-Asifa of trying to stir up trouble within the Palestinian refugee community in Yarmouk, while Syrian rebels have accused the PFLP-GC of stifling Palestinian dissent against Assad." [1]
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  20. https://web.archive.org/20140219055345/http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jevFaBhWboO5_Mqrgpk7ycShh4RQ?docId=CNG.493b5bfef777e0c4e6e2103828c1614e.1b1. Archived from the original on February 19, 2014. Retrieved February 5, 2016. Missing or empty |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Palestinian refugees at Yarmouk are left to their fate, irishtimes.com.
  22. 22.0 22.1 "ISIL re-enters Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria's capital". Retrieved 6 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  36. Clashes in Jobar and the Yarmouk camp, and aerial bombardment on al-Sokhna city
  37. Palestinian Militias Force ISIS Out of Yarmouk Camp
  38. Palestinians in Syria facing ‘imminent threat’: PLO
  39. Egypt condemns IS advances on Yarmouk refugee camp
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