Syrian rebels arm anti-Assad Palestinians


Armed rebel fighters gather close to the front line as they battle pro-government Syrian troops in the Salaheddin district of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, on October 30, 2012. Syrian rebels said they have begun arming Palestinians to fight a pro-Assad faction of Palestinians in Damascus.



Syrian rebels said on Wednesday that they were arming Palestinians sympathetic to their cause to fight against a pro-Assad faction in a Palestinian enclave in Damascus.

Reuters reported that two rebel commanders expected their allies to fight the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command (PFLP-GC) in a refugee camp which turned into the Yarmouk enclave.

"We've been arming Palestinians who are willing to fight...We have formed the Liwa al-Asifah (the Storm Brigade) which is made up of Palestinian fighters only," a rebel commander from the Suqour al-Golan brigade told Reuters. "Its task is to be in charge of the Yarmouk camp. We all support it and back it"

The news comes a day after fierce clashes broke out between rebels and troops backed by pro-regime Palestinians.

Agence France Presse reported that the clashes began after the end of Eid al-Adha on Monday. The four-day Muslim festival was meant to mark a ceasefire which failed, leaving 560 people dead, including 235 civilians.

More on GlobalPost: Syria violence: The ceasefire that wasn't

"Clashes broke out overnight in Al-Hajar Al-Aswad district between rebels and the army, spreading into the adjacent Yarmuk Palestinian camp. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command joined on the side of the army," the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman, told AFP.

According to UPI, there are an estimated half-million Palestinians who live in Syria, and both sides of the conflict have been courting their support.

"The regime has been trying to enlist the Palestinians, and the rebels have been trying to do the same," Hilal Khashan, a political science professor at American University of Beirut, told The Financial Times. "As the civil war in Syria continues to unfold, I think the Palestinian fratricide will be a chapter."

UPI noted that some Palestinians feel a loyalty to Assad for welcoming them in the past, while others support the pro-democracy rebels.

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