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: