Obama-Backed Mahmoud Abbas Says He Won’t Help Assad Bomb ISIS
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — The Palestine Liberation Organization said it will not be drawn into military action in an embattled Palestinian refugee camp in Syria, rejecting claims that Palestinians would join Syrian troops in driving out Islamic State militants.
The PLO statement, issued late Thursday, contradicted comments earlier by the PLO envoy to Damascus, Ahmad Majdalani, that Palestinian groups are ready to join forces with the Syrian government to expel IS fighters from the Yarmouk camp in the Syrian capital.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has long insisted that Palestinians stay out of the Syrian conflict. It was not immediately clear why Majdalani, sent by Abbas to Damascus to deal with the crisis, came out in support of Palestinian military involvement in Syria.
The contradictory comments exposed internal Palestinian disagreements on how to handle the growing crisis in Yarmouk, where thousands of civilians are trapped under appalling conditions.
Wasel Abu Yousef, a senior PLO official based in the West Bank town of Ramallah, said Friday that negotiating safe passage for Yarmouk’s besieged residents and for humanitarian supplies is preferable to military action.
“We know that if the (Syrian) army, with its planes and tanks, would interfere, this would mean the complete destruction of the camp,” he said.
A Damascus-based Palestinian official, Khaled Abdul-Majid, said the back and forth was not helping Yarmouk. He said the PLO was backing away from earlier statements “as a result of pressure from external sides.” He did not elaborate, but said Damascus-based Palestinian factions will stick to the agreement reached on joining Syrian troops in driving IS militants out. More