BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — An employee of the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees and his son were killed on Thursday as Syrian forces shelled the country’s largest Palestinian refugee camp.
The maintenance technician and his son, a medical student, were both Palestinian refugees. They were killed in their home in Yarmouk refugee camp.
“The tragic deaths occurred when the staff member’s home took a direct hit reportedly from shells,” the UN Relief and Works Agency said in a statement. “This is a sad reminder of the personal risks being taken and the sacrifices being made by UNRWA staff and other humanitarian personnel in Syria.”
Forces loyal to President Bashar Assad killed at least 9 Palestinian refugees, among 20 casualties in Yarmouk and the surrounding areas in south Damascus on Thursday, local sources and residents said.
On Wednesday evening, three young Palestinian refugees were killed reportedly when their homes were shelled, UNRWA said.
Yarmouk camp and the districts surrounding it have seen the most prolonged fighting in the capital since Assad’s forces launched a counter-offensive to push rebels out of the city two months ago.
Residents of the camp, home to over 150,000 Palestinian refugees, have been affected by intense armed conflict in adjacent residential areas since late August, the UN agency added.
Residents said that for the last two weeks Yarmouk had been closed off from neighboring districts and that they had heard regular clashes.
They said the army may have intensified its attack on the district in the belief that rebels, who have been sheltering in the nearby neighborhoods of Tadamon and Hajar al-Aswad, were slipping into Yarmouk, whose Palestinian residents are suspected by authorities of siding with the rebels.
“In addition to loss of life and injuries among Syrians and Palestine refugees, these developments have resulted in the significant damage to homes and property,” UNRWA said.
“UNRWA has informed the Syrian authorities of developments and will reiterate its calls to the authorities to afford protection from the effects of armed conflict for refugees and other civilians across Syria.”
Some 225,000 Palestinian refugees have been directly affected by the 18-month-old uprising against Assad.
The UN says nearly 20,000 people have been killed during the conflict that began as peaceful pro-democracy protests and grew into a civil war under a brutal crackdown by regime forces.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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