Islamic State releases photos from Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus

The Islamic State has released a small photo set showing its forces engaging Palestinian factions in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, the capital of Syria. The photos bear the title of Wilayat Dimashq (the Arabic name for Damascus) as the jihadist group considers the camp as part of this administrative district.

The photo set, which contains only a few pictures, shows Islamic State fighters using small arms and at least two heavy machine guns to target the Palestinian factions. The main faction fighting back against the Islamic State advance is Aknaf Bayt al Maqdis, a group loyal to Hamas. Two photos in the set show two members of Aknaf who have been beheaded by the Islamic State. Other photos show Islamic State fighters at the Palestinian mosque in the camp.

The Islamic State was able to seize portions of the Yarmouk camp away from Palestinian factions on Apr. 1. However, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) later reported that the Aknaf was able to drive the Islamic State out of the areas it seized. SOHR continued to report yesterday and today that the Islamic State started a renewed offensive inside the camp. It has been reported that the Islamic State has again taken large portions of the camp.

SOHR has also reported that “Islamic factions” are assisting Aknaf in its fight against the Islamic State. “Islamic factions” usually denotes those groups in the Islamic Front, which is allied to the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria. Jaish al Islam, the Islamic Front faction operating in Damascus, released a statement on Twitter saying that it is assisting Aknaf in its fight against the Islamic State. However, today SOHR released a report saying that Al Nusrah is assisting the Islamic State in taking the Yarmouk camp. Al Nusrah’s authority in Damascus has since released statement on Twitter saying that it has remained neutral in the fight and that it has tried to mediate a ceasefire. It also denied rumors that its forces in the Yarmouk camp defected to the Islamic State and renewed its pledge to Nusrah leader, Abu Muhammad al Julani. Aknaf has also released a statement on Twitter accusing Nusrah of complicity in allowing the Islamic State to attack the Yarmouk camp.

The Yarmouk camp is a refugee camp for Palestinians that was established in the 1950’s. According to Al Jazeera, over 18,000 civilians are trapped in the camp and have been subjected to bombardment and starvation tactics by the Syrian regime.

Photos released by the Islamic State in the Yarmouk camp:

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Caleb Weiss is a contributor to FDD's Long War Journal.

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14 Comments

  • Tom says:

    “Sigh”

    We are degrading ISIS Obama says. Ironically before the US got involved by bombing the IS, FSA, JAN, YPG/PKK, and IF were planning a joint strike on Tishrin Dam followed by a march on Raqqah.

    //upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/archive/8/88/20140912043639!Syrian_civil_war.png

    //upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/archive/8/88/20141004202144!Syrian_civil_war.png

    As you can see, FSA, JAN, and IF were besieging Tishrin to relieve the pressure off of YPG and force IS to defend Raqqah.

    The airstrikes on JAN killed the plan because it also killed IF leaders and led JAN to decide SRF was a liability and strike them first while IF pulled out of the Tishrin front.

    End result was the total collapse of the FSA pockets along the Euphrates. Obama scored an Own Goal for IS and JAN. Oops!

    Looking at the updates:

    //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cities_and_towns_during_the_Syrian_Civil_War

    IS is resuming its Kobane offensive now that the ground is firming back up for Trucks and new recruits trained over the winter are now ready for combat.

    They already retaken the Mitras Grain Silos, Hamadun, and Cilik (Jayl). They are ow moving to surround Mitras, thus securing Sarrin and using it to rsume the fight for Kobane. YPG simply doesn’t have the troops or equipment to resist them and IS operational capabilities negate its opponents advantages.

    Scoot over to Hasakah, IS is pushing into Tall Tamer now, and further over it has repushed across the Khabur river between Tall Brak and Tall Hamis. IS goal is quite clear here, take the upper Khabur River Valley and the remaining Syrian Wheat Fields or at least deny them to YPG, further harming their economic resources just as they did to the Kobane Canton which lost its entire fall drug crop and the income from cigarette smuggling.

    In this IS is following the operational strategy of the Rashidun Caliphate which lost more battles than it won, but still won the wars because they carried out an integrated approach that fought their enemies economy, manpower, and logistics and was flexible enough to call off operations when the army became imperiled.

    YPG which follows French Doctrine constantly wastes its forces and as the front is now spread out, IS mobile forces are able to encircle and destroy them while negating US Air Power. Also as previously mentioned elsewhere, YPG has lost the Civilian base it recruits from and Turkey has closed the border to all but select Kurds who it knows won’t join YPG which is a subsidiary of PKK and considered worse than IS by Turkey.

    As for Assad:

    1. He can no longer win this war alone with the resources he has.

    2. Hezbollah doesn’t have enough numbers to replace losses and unless LAF intervenes in Syria in Assad’s favor, Hezbollah can’t deploy its full might.

    3. Iran is trying to reach him, but first they have to clean up Iraq and that is not likely this year as the Militias and Kurds have made it clear to Sunni Arabs that they are all considered to be IS and thus more Sunnis are joining IS because its that or be killed. They have no where else to go.

    4. Assad’s best forces, Tiger Brigade and Druze Division are stretched too thin or tied down in Deir Ezzour Pocket respectively.

    5. IS and JAN are growing stronger and amassing more equipment despite airstrikes which are more annoyance than actually useful and have even perversely helped IS and JAN.

    So Assad basically has to hold his capital, Homs, Deir Ezzour, Hasakah, and Qamishli if he wants to keep his job and head. He loses either of those spots, he is dead figuratively and literally and Iran won’t be able to link up with him in time with their militias.

    • Guy says:

      Interesting. But Iran has an air bridge to anywhere with a decent airfield (and no manpads) in Syria. I understand they can’t push in from Iraq with this method, but they can reinforce areas as needed. Why don’t they exploit that? Assad also has the benefit of Russian and Iranian materiel, including all of the upkeep and ammunition needed for whatever weapon systems he has. Although, as you pointed out, all the gear in the world means nothing if you have no guys to use it.

  • Tom says:

    //www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AbMYO-SvyE

    Interesting. What looked like an F-18 or F-15 was flying over this fight but did not assist.

    Even if all it had were guns, a strafing run might have made a difference.

    This video also reminds me of Hezbollah actions in South Lebanon during the 90s which were similarly videotaped.

    Small actions like these were ultimately what drove Israel out of South Lebanon and its ripping the Peshmerga up and forcing them to fritter away strength from Frontline Units to their rear.

    • Guy says:

      One F18 run wouldn’t make a difference, especially in a built up area like this. Not to mention- where would we get reliable targeting data? What if we blew up Syrian Army guys instead? Not worth it.

  • It’s incorrect to refer to areas such as Yarmouk as “refugee camps”. Yes, they are areas where refugees live, but as the photos clearly show, they should more correctly be called refugee towns. To use the term “camp” gives readers the impression that the inhabitants are living in tents and temporary housing. Whereas the truth is that the Palestinians have been living here since 1950 and everyone is living in permanent housing, in buildings and houses.

    • James says:

      @Tom,

      One point I forgot to mention, at least me and you both agree on the need to get rid of A$$ad.

    • Konstantine Hope says:

      Indeed, I saw the MSM having the gall to pull the “why do Syrians and other arabs keep palestinians in refugee camps like yarmouk for 80 years while Israel treats them so well” card, as if these poor palestinians are kept in tentlike conditions worse than gaza, when in fact the 1 sq mile of yarmouk has been indistinguishable from the rest of highly developed urban damascus for the past 60 years, with Palestinians in Syria having every single legal right that syrians do(including land ownership), except for the right to vote(think about that for a second:the worth of a vote in Assad’s syria)

      • Jenda says:

        Palestinian refugees in these camps do NOT have the same rights as locals, even in peacetime. Anytime something goes wrong, they’re used as community scapegoats and forced out of jobs, or relied upon as muscle against to locals if that doesn’t work. Their “representatives” do not complain of such treatment openly because their populations are held hostage in such places and many of such places pay them to be stuck there, with the best emigrating to functional societies like the West or the Gulf states.

  • Dan says:

    This is a mess.

    The International Community must unite behind Assad and completely smash IS. The US and her allies have aligned with “unfavourables” to achieve certain objectives. It is now time to do it again and rid the region (first) of these Islamic State turds, then push outward and mop their putrid ideology up Crusade style.

  • James says:

    Yo Tom,

    You are going to have to provide better links before I can ever give you any credence to your claims. It seems to me that you are making rash conclusions and suppositions throughout your post. Please show us more proof of your claims.

    James

  • Mark says:

    Wow, IS must be desperate. TOM is letting loose with both barrels.

  • اخبار says:

    Even if all it had were guns, a strafing run might have made a difference.

    This video also reminds me of Hezbollah actions in South Lebanon during the 90s which were similarly videotaped.

    Small actions like these were ultimately what drove Israel out of South Lebanon and its ripping the Peshmerga up and forcing them to fritter away strength from Frontline Units to their rear.

  • jay says:

    Do you think the Wiki article is accurate?
    //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Sarrin

    It appears that Daesh is losing almost 200 men while the YPG only lost 5

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis