Video Shows Syria’s Yarmouk Refugee Camp Reduced to Piles of Smoldering Rubbl

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After nearly two weeks of intense battles between Islamic State fighters and various militias, it appears that much of Syria’s Yarmouk refugee camp has been reduced to rubble.

A Syrian activist group shared video footage Friday that shows the devastating aftermath of the latest round of fighting between IS militants, Syrian rebel groups, and forces loyal to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

The video shows dozens of bombed-out buildings, piles of smoldering rubble, and a bulldozer working to clear the ruins from the street.

IS invaded Yarmouk on April 1 and has since taken control over an estimated 60 percent of the camp after intense battles with the Syrian government and other militias, according to the New York Times.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, reportedThursday that Assad’s forces have dropped a total of 36 barrel bombs on Yarmouk since April 4.

“The situation inside the camp is catastrophic,” one resident of Yarmouk named Ahmadtold the Guardian yesterday. “There is no food or electricity or water, Daesh [Arabic acronym for IS] is killing and looting the camp, there are clashes, there is shelling. Everyone is shelling the camp.”

The camp in southern Damascus used to be home to about 200,000 people, mainly Palestinian refugees who fled or were forced out of their homeland in the 1940s when Israel was established, but its population has since dwindled to just 18,000 since the Syrian civil war began four years ago. Between 2,000 and 4,000 others are estimated to have fled Yarmouk since IS took control, but many residents remain inside the camp.

The IS offensive is just the latest development that has devastated Yarmouk. The camp has been under siege by Assad’s government for two years, resulting in mass starvation. Food prices have skyrocketed and access to drinkable water has also been blocked by the siege. An estimated 200 people died in 2014 in Yarmouk due to malnutrition.

Medical services, including access to drugs and doctors, have also been severely impacted in Yarmouk. A barrel bomb hit one of the only two remaining hospitals on Thursday, theGuardian reported.

Yarmouk’s destruction has become a symbol of the tragic humanitarian crisis of Syria’s war. Christopher Gunness, a spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA) said Friday that the situation is worsening, and condemned the lack of action taken by the international community to help Yarmouk’s embattled residents.

“The violence that began in Yarmouk on April 9 is not just continuing, it has intensified,” Gunness said in a statement. “The world community must not stand by as a silent witness to what the UN Secretary General has warned could be a massacre. Yarmouk is at the lower reaches of hell. It must not be allowed to descend further.”

Gunness added that Yarmouk’s civilian residents were unable to meet their most basic needs of food, water, and medicine, which has put them at “grave risk.”

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon also condemned the international community’s failure to stem the humanitarian crisis on Thursday, saying that Yarmouk “is beginning to resemble a death camp.”

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