Syria Warns Palestinians Not to Aid Rebels as Camp Residents Flee
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syria warned its Palestinian refugee [almost everyone under the age of 65 in these camps was born in Syria, and are thus not "refugees" of any sort. Henry Kissinger was a German refugee; Henry Kissinger's son, and grandsons, are not. The word "refugee" has been made, by Arab propagnada, into a permanent condition, and the geographic designation "Palestinian" into an unshakable ethnic one -- it's absurd, and an absurdity that one should never tire of pointing out].population on Monday not to aid the insurgency that is fighting President Bashar al-Assad, as hundreds of Palestinians fled the Yarmouk neighborhood of Damascus and headed for relative safety in Lebanon, a day after Syrian forces attacked that neighborhood for the first time in the civil war.
The Syrian warning, reported by the official news agency, SANA, appeared to reflect the sensitivity Mr. Assad attaches to the loyalty of the country’s Palestinians, an important element of what remains of his political legitimacy. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians live in Syria, displaced by the Arab-Israeli struggle. Historically, they have considered Mr. Assad a benefactor and ally. Yarmouk was originally a refugee camp, and has developed into a mixed Damascus neighborhood where many Palestinians live — but increasing numbers of them have been siding with the insurgents.
The warning aimed at these Palestinians came in a news dispatch about what SANA said was a telephone conversation between the country’s foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon about the general situation in Syria and specifically the Yarmouk neighborhood. Mr. Moallem was quoted as telling Mr. Ban that mayhem had been convulsing Yarmouk for days, caused by infiltrations from terrorist groups, the government’s blanket description for insurgents.
“The minister also stressed that Palestinians should not shelter or help terrorist groups who are outsiders to the camp, and should work on kicking them out,” Mr. Moallem was quoted as saying.
The SANA account said Syrian ground forces had refrained from entering Yarmouk, but said nothing about the air strikes that hit Yarmouk on Sunday, which were reported by witnesses, rebels and Palestinian defectors to the rebel side. By some accounts, as many as 20 people were killed, and families could be seen hastily fleeing the area with packed bags.
In neighboring Lebanon, the minister of social affairs, Wael Abu Faour, said on Monday that at least 22 busloads of people had entered the country from Syria in the last day, and a “majority were Palestinians fleeing Yarmouk.”
More refugees were arriving on Monday at the border-crossing town of Masnaa, where entry lanes were clogged with Palestinians.
Hussam Salah, a 27-year-old Palestinian [Syrian
] who [was born in and]
grew up in Syria and who now lives in Lebanon and works for al-Mayadeen, a pro-Syrian television channel, said a large number of Palestinians fleeing Syria, some of them apparently wounded, had arrived at Bourj el-Barajneh, a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut’s southern suburbs, and had sought medical treatment from a hospital there.