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Friday, June 10, 2011     FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

Palestinians in Syria spurn regime pressure
to storm Israeli border; Join revolt

NICOSIA — The Palestinian minority in Syria has joined the revolt against President Bashar Assad.


Palestinian sources said residents of at least one refugee camp have begun fighting the Assad regime. They said the clashes were sparked by the recruitment of hundreds of Palestinians to march toward the Israeli border in early June in an attempt to divert attention from the revolt in Syria.

"The regime is trying to use Palestinians as a weapon of last resort," a Palestinian source said. "What they want is to create sides for a civil war in which we would play a major role."

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The sources said Assad has used at least one insurgency movement to recruit Palestinian refugees. They cited the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, led by Syrian Army Capt. Ahmed Jibril and financed by Iran.

On June 6, at least 11 Palestinians were killed in clashes with PFLP-GC in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in Damascus, Middle East Newsline reported. The fighting began when Palestinians, protesting the movement's recruitment of refugees to assault the Syrian border with Israel, stormed PFLP-GC headquarters.

"They [PFLP-GC] came to people and offered them large amounts of money to march to the Israeli border even though they knew that the area was full of mines," the source said.

The Assad regime said 23 people were killed and 350 were injured during the June 5 march to the Israeli border along the Golan Heights. Israel and the United States said the march was organized by the Assad regime to divert attention from the Syrian revolt.

The sources said the Assad regime, through PFLP-GC, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and other groups, were trying to recruit Palestinians to help quell the growing protest movement. They said Palestinians were being sought amid reports that Syrian soldiers were refusing to shoot at civilian demonstrators.

"There is considerable sympathy in the refugee camps for the opposition," another Palestinian source said.

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