Five civilians have been killed in 24 hours in regime shelling on a southern district of Syria’s capital held by the Islamic State group, a monitor said yesterday.
Syrian troops are waging an intense bombing campaign against Yarmouk, a Palestinian refugee camp on the edge of Damascus, and nearby districts that are held by IS. An elderly man was killed yesterday in shelling on Yarmouk, and another died after he was wounded in bombardment there the previous day, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
A woman, her husband, and their child were killed in shelling in Yarmuk late Saturday, it said. “This brings to 11 the number of civilians killed since the shelling escalated on Thursday,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.
The bombing and clashes continued into yesterday, Abdel Rahman said, with air strikes, artillery, and surface-to-surface missiles hitting the neighbourhood. Chris Gunness, spokesman for the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA), said the bombardment had pushed most Yarmuk residents to flee their homes and put the area’s last hospital out of service.
“Since the start of fighting four days ago, most of the 6,000 civilians in Yarmouk camp have been forcibly displaced to the neighbouring area of Yalda,” he said. “The last functioning hospital inside Yarmouk, Palestine Hospital, is now completely unable to operate,” Gunness said. He called on all sides to allow civilians to leave safely, for the sick and wounded to be evacuated, and for safe access for humanitarian workers to distribute food and medicine. Yarmuk was once a densely populated and thriving district of the capital, but it has been ravaged by violence since Syria’s conflict broke out in 2011. Syria’s government imposed a crippling siege on it in 2012, and fighting among rebels and rival militants has exhausted residents.
In 2015, IS overran most of Yarmouk, and the small numbers of other rebels and militants, including from Al Qaeda’s former affiliate, that had a presence there agreed to withdraw just a few weeks ago.
UNSC agrees to ‘strengthen dialogue’ on Syria
UN Security Council members and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres yesterday concluded a two-day informal working meeting in Sweden, agreeing on the need “to recreate and strengthen dialogue” internally and on Syria. “There is need to reinvigorate the UN-led political process,” Peruvian ambassador to the UN Gustavo Meza-Cuadra, the current council president, said in a statement. The council has been deeply divided on the topic of Syria, most recently on how to respond to an alleged chemical attack on the Damascus suburb of Douma on April 7. They have repeatedly failed to agree on a response to the attack. After their weekend session, the ambassadors also agreed to “intensify efforts” in regard to the humanitarian situation in Syria, and were committed to establishing “an independent and impartial attribution mechanism” on chemical weapons. Meza-Cuadra did not take questions after reading the statement on behalf of the council.
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