Syrian Enclave of Palestinians Nearly Deserted After Assault
By ANTHONY SHADID and ISABEL KERSHNER
Latakia, on the country’s Mediterranean coast, is the third locale to bear the full brunt of military and security forces this month, though the government has also persisted in its crackdown on the suburbs of
On Tuesday in
“It’s not going to be any news if the
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which assists Palestinian refugees, said that it had no information on the whereabouts of the Latakia Palestinians. Activists have said many of the displaced have left for the countryside or
“A forgotten population has now become a disappeared population,” said Christopher Gunness, spokesman for the agency in
The refugee neighborhood, Raml, was set up after 1948, when Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes during the fighting at the creation of
“The residents in Raml will rally the same day the army pulls out,” said one, Ahmed Bogdash. “They are poor and they have nothing to lose.”
Mr. Gunness said forces had directed heavy fire into the neighborhood and that Syrian security officials had told some of the residents to leave, suggesting an impending military operation. By Tuesday, Raml was “all but deserted,” he added, citing latest reports from what he described as a broad range of reliable sources. The Syrian authorities have so far refused the refugee agency access to Raml, he said, leading to fears that some wounded or elderly residents could be stranded.
The reports from Latakia made headlines in Palestinian newspapers in the
“We urge the Syrian authorities to stop the attack on the refugee camp immediately,” said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. “It is unacceptable, we cannot accept it,” he said.
Another senior Palestinian official, Yasser Abed Rabbo, has described the attack on Raml as “a crime against humanity.” Speaking on the official Voice of Palestine Radio on Tuesday, Mr. Abed Rabbo said that the Syrian government had “lost rationality.”
Syria has long given residence to Palestinian factions opposed to Mr. Abbas, including Hamas and some splinter Palestinian groups, and many Palestinians recall Syria’s decision to intervene decisively against them in 1976 during the Lebanese civil war. So far, Hamas has sought to avoid alienating the government in
Gunfire was still heard Tuesday, though it seemed less intense. “It’s collective punishment against the people of Latakia,” Mr. Bogdash said.
Anthony Shadid reported from Beirut, and Isabel Kershner from
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs