Battle of Yarmouk Camp (2015)

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Battle of Yarmouk Camp (2015)
Part of the Syrian Civil War
(Rif Dimashq Governorate campaign)
Battle of Yarmouk (2015) map.jpg
Map of the territorial control in southern Damascus during the battle, on 4 April 2015
  Controlled by the Syrian Government
  Controlled by the Syrian opposition
  Truce/ceasefire zones
Date1–20 April 2015
(2 weeks and 5 days)

Partial ISIL victory

  • 2,000 people were evacuated from the district[7]
  • Rebels repel ISIL attack on the al-Qaboun and Barzah districts[8]
  • Aknaf Bait al-Maqdis dissolves[1]
  • ISIL and al-Nusra Front initially seized 95% of the district,[9] gains later reduced to 40%[10]
  • Belligerents

    Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

    al-Nusra Front[1][2]
    Jaysh al-Islam[3]
    Free Syrian Army
    Aknaf Bait al-Maqdis Surrendered[1]

    Syrian Arab Republic

    Emblem of the Palestine Liberation Army.svg Palestine Liberation Army[4]
    PFLP-GC Flag.svg PFLP-GC[5]
    Fatah al-Intifada[4]
    Commanders and leaders
    Unknown Zahran Alloush
    (Jaysh al-Islam leader)
    Abo Hammam
    (Aknaf Bait al-Maqdis leader)[11]
    Ahmad Zaghmout (WIA)
    (Aknaf Bait al-Maqdis leader)[1]
    PFLP-GC Flag.svg Ahmed Jibril (PFLP-GC leader)[12]
    Units involved

    Military of ISIL

    Syria Liwa Sham al-Rasul[3]
    Liwa al-Asifa[13]
    Jaysh al-Ababil[14]
    1st Brigade[15]
    PFLP-GC Flag.svg Jihad Jibril Brigade
    Popular Committee-Yarmouk Refugee Camp
    Casualties and losses
    80 killed[16]
    (Jaysh al-Islam claim)
    36 killed[4]
    (PFLP-GC claim)
    9–15 killed,[2][4] 10 captured[17] 5 killed[2]
    8–13 civilians executed by ISIL[18][19]
    38 killed overall (8 civilians; SOHR)[18]
    4,000 civilians displaced[20]

    The Battle of Yarmouk Camp (2015) was a battle that broke out in April 2015, during the Syrian Civil War, when the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant stormed the rebel-held Yarmouk Camp. The Yarmouk Camp is a district of Damascus that is home to the largest community of Palestinian refugees in Syria.[21]


    On 17 December 2012, the Free Syrian Army and anti-government Palestinians took control of the camp. After subsequent heavy fighting, the FSA and the Syrian Army agreed to leave Yarmouk as a neutral, demilitarized zone, but the camp remained besieged and sporadic clashes continued. Syrian government forces besieged Yarmouk for two years, and as a result, approximately 200 people were believed to have died of hunger in 2014.[22]

    The battle[edit]

    ISIL storms the camp[edit]

    On 1 April, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militants entered the Yarmouk Refugee Camp from the Hajar Al-Aswad district, but were expelled the next day by Syrian and Palestinian rebels. However, ISIL re-entered the camp on 4 April and took control of 90% of it.[2][23] Local recruits were among the ISIL forces—having joined the militants due to anger at being starved by the Syrian government and disliking some of the rebel groups that controlled Yarmouk "for playing politics with the regime rather than confronting it."[24]

    On 5 April, Jaysh al-Islam claimed that its fighters were refused access to the camp by al-Nusra Front and that al-Nusra allowed ISIL to enter the camp, which led to some defections from the first party.[3] The al-Nusra Front responded by defending its neutral stance in the conflict[25] and claimed to have mediated a ceasefire. It also denied rumors about the alleged defections.[26] Meanwhile, the Army bombed the camp with 13 barrel bombs.[27] A commander in the Aknaf Bait al-Maqdis was killed during clashes with ISIL.[28]

    On 6 April, it was reported that about 2,000 people were evacuated from the camp since ISIL's attack.[7] The same day, pro-government Palestinian groups led by the Palestine Liberation Army, the PFLP, PFLP-GC and Fatah al-Intifada launched an assault against ISIL. They reportedly captured Morocco Street, Al-Ja’ounah Street and the Martyrs Cemetery and claimed to have killed 36 ISIL militant and controlled 40% of the Yarmouk camp.[4]

    On 7 April, the fighting had ceased,[18] with ISIL in control of 95% of the camp.[9]

    Rebel counterattack[edit]

    On 12 April, Jaysh al-Islam and allied forces launched a counterattack on the ISIL-held Hajar al-Aswad district[29] and reportedly advanced.[30] Jaysh al-Islam also recaptured Al-Zein street in Yarmouk Camp from ISIL, during a nighttime operation.[31]

    By 16 April, ISIL and al-Nusra were still holding 80% of the Yarmouk Camp, after clashes with Aknaf Bait al-Maqdis and other rebels.[32] Two days later, fighting between the rebels and ISIL expanded to the neighborhoods of al-Qaboun and Barzah. The rebels captured 9 ISIL militants[33] and killed 12 others.[34]

    On 19 April, an activist reported that ISIL was planning to leave the camp, although they had not yet done so. He also revealed that most of the al-Nusra Front fighters in Yarmouk Camp had defected to ISIL, and that the two groups were closely collaborating in the area. By then, Aknaf Bait al-Maqdis had dissolved and joined Syrian Government forces.[1] By 20 April, the ISIL attack on the two districts had been repelled.[8]


    After the retreat of ISIL from the al-Qaboun and Barzah districts, the UN continued trying to bring relief aid into Yarmouk Camp. However, the camp remained sealed off, and the relief workers were only able to deliver supplies to the communities outside of Yarmouk Camp.[35] ISIL control was eventually shrunk to 40% of the area, with another 20% being contested.[10] Meanwhile, talks continued for making the Yarmouk Camp a neutral region, with plans for the expulsion of all gunmen from the area.[36]

    Fighting between ISIL and government forces continued in the camp into late May.[37] On 8 June 2015, Palestinian militias in Yarmouk Camp reportedly expelled ISIL from the area of Damascus.[38] However, three weeks later, it was revealed that Yarmouk Camp was still under siege by Syrian Army forces.[39]

    October 2017[edit]

    The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) launched a big assault in the Yarmouk Camp, targeting the neighbourhoods controlled by Aknaf Beit Al-Maqdis and Jaysh Al-Islam.

    According to the terrorist group’s official media wing, their forces captured the Yarmouk Hospital and several buildings nearby after overtaking the Islamist fighters in the southern part of the district.

    Most of the Yarmouk Camp is under the occupation of the Islamic State, which leaves the remaining civilians inside the district at the mercy of the terrorist group.

    While the Syrian Red Crescent and U.N. have attempted to deliver humanitarian aid to the beleaguered neighbourhoods of Yarmouk, they have found themselves often blocked by the Islamic State terrorists manning checkpoints between this district and nearby Palestine Camp.[40]

    January 2018[edit]

    On 5 January 2018, Jaysh al-Islam fighters attempted to infiltrate ISIL positions within the orchards situated in-between Yalda and Hajjar As-Aswad.[41] After weeks of sporadic clashes, ISIL managed to capture 3/4 of Yarmouk Camp. By 27 January, ISIL almost entirely controlled Hajjar al-Aswad after breaking through the last lines of defense, and were on the verge of entering the town of Yalda. During the same time, further areas had also been captured in Yarmouk district.[42]

    Foreign reactions[edit]

    •  United States – State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf condemned ISIL's attack on the Yarmouk refugees camp.[23]
    •  Egypt – The Egyptian Foreign Ministry also condemned ISIL's attack and called for "an immediate end to the fighting in order to preserve the lives of civilians… and reiterates Egypt’s solidarity with our Palestinian brotherly-people."[43]
    •  United Nations – The UN Security Council demanded humanitarian aid access to the camp "for the protection of civilians".[44]

    See also[edit]


    1. ^ a b c d e "'ISIS and Nusra are one' in Yarmouk Camp". Archived from the original on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
    2. ^ a b c d Master. "Jabhat al-Nusra and IS take control on 90% of the Yarmouk camp". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Archived from the original on 7 April 2015. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
    3. ^ a b c "Army of Islam on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
    4. ^ a b c d e Leith Fadel (6 April 2015). "Complete Report from the Yarmouk Camp; Palestinian Resistance on the Offensive". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
    5. ^ AFP (17 December 2012). "Syria hits back at UN over Palestinian refugees". Syria. NOW. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
    6. ^ Al-Thawra (14 April 2014). "Popular Struggle Front Condemns PLO Backtrack on Yarmouk". The Syrian Observer. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
    7. ^ a b "2,000 civilians evacuated from Syria′s Yarmouk - News - DW.DE - 05.04.2015". DW.DE. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
    8. ^ a b "Syrian rebels defeat ISIS in Damascus". ARA News. 20 April 2015. Archived from the original on 19 October 2017. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
    9. ^ a b Al-Souria Net. "ISIS Controls 95 Percent of Yarmouk Refugee Camp". The Syrian Observer. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
    10. ^ a b "Jihadists, Palestinians battle in Syria refugee camp". Retrieved 26 May 2015.
    11. ^ "Video- The War On Terror Continues- SAA ground-to-ground missile against ISIS Terrorists In Yarmouk Camp- Idlib, Hama, Qalamoun Mountains". Archived from the original on 26 May 2015. Retrieved 4 April 2015.
    12. ^ "Corrections and clarifications". The Guardian. London. 17 December 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
    13. ^ Jerusalem Post. "The PFLP-GC have accused the Liwa al-Asifa of trying to stir up trouble within the Palestinian refugee community in Yarmouk, while Syrian rebels have accused the PFLP-GC of stifling Palestinian dissent against Assad." [1]
    14. ^ "Timeline Photos - The Syrian Rebellion Observatory - Observatoire de la rébellion Syrienne - Facebook". Retrieved 6 April 2015.
    15. ^ "Sami on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
    16. ^ Kareem Shaheen. "UN warns situation in Damascus refugee camp is 'beyond inhumane'". the Guardian. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
    17. ^ Master. "Explosion near Tal Tamir, and IS captures 10 militants in the Yarmouk camp". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Archived from the original on 15 April 2015. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
    18. ^ a b c "Syria offers Palestinians its firepower in Yarmuk battle". Zee News. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
    19. ^ "Daesh kills 13 in Yarmouk refugee camp: activists". Al Bawaba. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
    20. ^ "Yarmouk's Palestinians: 'Waiting for death to knock'". Retrieved 9 May 2015.
    21. ^ "Syria rebels 'clash with army, Palestinian fighters'". Archived from the original on 19 February 2014. Retrieved 5 February 2016.
    22. ^ Palestinian refugees at Yarmouk are left to their fate,
    23. ^ a b "ISIL re-enters Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria's capital". Retrieved 6 April 2015.
    24. ^ "The war against Islamic State (1): Creeping toward Damascus". The Economist. 11 April 2015. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
    25. ^ sohranas. "Jabhat al- Nusra stands for impartiality and refuse the entry of Jaysh al- Islam to al- Yarmouk refugee camp". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Archived from the original on 7 April 2015. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
    26. ^ "Islamic State releases photos from Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus - The Long War Journal". Retrieved 6 April 2015.
    27. ^ Master. "13 explosive barrels on the Yarmouk camp". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Archived from the original on 15 April 2015. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
    28. ^ sohranas. "The capital witnesses power outage". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Archived from the original on 7 April 2015. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
    29. ^ "Syrian Rebellion Obs on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
    30. ^ "Syrian Rebellion Obs on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
    31. ^ "Elijah J. Magnier on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
    32. ^ Master. "80% of the Yarmouk camp is under control by the IS". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Archived from the original on 3 June 2015. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
    33. ^ sohranas. "The rebels and Islamic battalions capture 9 IS militants and kill 12 others in Damascus". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Archived from the original on 18 April 2015. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
    34. ^ sohranas. "The death toll of IS rises to 12 in Damascus, while hundreds of food baskets let in into the south of Rif Dimashq". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Archived from the original on 19 April 2015. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
    35. ^ "United Nations News Centre". UN News Service Section. 23 April 2015. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
    36. ^ "Palestinian officials in Syria over Yarmouk Camp". Retrieved 9 May 2015.
    37. ^ Clashes in Jobar and the Yarmouk camp, and aerial bombardment on al-Sokhna city Archived 26 May 2015 at the Wayback Machine
    38. ^ Palestinian Militias Force ISIS Out of Yarmouk Camp
    39. ^ Palestinians in Syria facing ‘imminent threat’: PLO
    40. ^ "ISIS seizes large part of Yarmouk Camp". AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 25 October 2017. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
    41. ^ "Battle erupts between ISIS and Syrian rebels in south Damascus". AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 5 January 2018. Retrieved 17 February 2018.
    42. ^ "ISIS forces on the verge of entering new town in southern Damascus - map". AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 27 January 2018. Retrieved 17 February 2018.
    43. ^ Egypt condemns IS advances on Yarmouk refugee camp
    44. ^ "UN Security Council demands aid access to Yarmuk camp in Syria". The Daily Star Newspaper - Lebanon. Retrieved 6 April 2015.

    Coordinates: 33°28′27″N 36°18′11″E / 33.47417°N 36.30306°E / 33.47417; 36.30306