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THE United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) on Monday reported ” intensive armed conflict” inside a Palestinian refugee camp near the Syrian capital of Damascus, saying that the UN agency “has received credible reports of serious damage to civilian property consistent with the use of heavy weapons.”

Michael Kingsley-Nyinah, director of affairs in Syria for the UNRWA, briefed the UN Security Council on the current situation in Yarmouk, a camp for Palestinian refugees five kilometers south of the Syrian capital.

UNRWA reported that the situation inside Yarmouk continues to be marked by intensive armed conflict, placing the lives of civilians in jeopardy. Several days of calm were shattered by protracted armed engagements during the nights of April 28 and May 1.

“UNRWA has not been able to trace civilian casualties, but it has received credible reports of serious damage to civilian property consistent with the use of heavy weapons,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters here Monday. He nevertheless said there had been relative calm inside Yarmouk since Sunday.

The Islamic State (IS) group, also known as ISIL, and al-Qaida- linked Nusra Front have taken control of more than 90 percent of the Palestinian refugee camp, reports said in early April. The capture of Yarmouk Camp by the Nusra and the IS groups came after four days of intense battles with the rival jihadist group, Aknaf Beit al-Maqdes, which has been in control of the camp since 2013.

The Aknaf group has retreated to the northeastern part of Yarmouk, reports said, adding that the IS beheaded two people in Yarmouk, spelling no details on the reasons behind the gruesome killings. Other activists said seven Palestinians were killed by the IS during the four-day-long battles.

Set up as a refugee camp for Palestinians in the 1950s, Yarmouk slowly evolved into a neighborhood over the years, but it has been engulfed in the Syrian conflict since 2012.

Many people inside the camp have suffered greatly during the last two years as the siege by the government troops prevented the entry of food and medicine from reaching the trapped people, save for some aid convoys that were delivered in cooperation between the Syrian authorities and humanitarian organizations. (PNA/Xinhua)

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