OIC blames Syria regime, rebels for Palestinian camp clashes
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia - The world's largest Muslim body condemned on Tuesday, December18, the clashes rocking a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus and held both government troops and rebels responsible for the unrest.
"We are sorry for what Yarmuk camp has undergone. Palestinians must have been spared the killing and unrest... neither the regime nor the opposition can be excused," Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the head of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, said.
The Yarmuk camp housing tens of thousands of Palestinians in southern Damascus saw fierce battles Monday night, December 17, between rebels and the pro-regime Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, activists said.
On Sunday regime warplanes bombed the camp for the first time since the start of the 21-month-old conflict, killing eight civilians and drawing stiff criticism from the international community and Palestinian leaders.
"The Syrian crisis is currently going through a critical phase," Ihsanoglu -- whose organisation suspended Syria's membership in August -- told reporters in Jeddah, urging the international community to "begin a political process."
He urged embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to "make sacrifices in order to save the people" and said: "We consider this the final call to the Syrian leadership."
However, he said that his organization is not considering opening a representative office for the Syrian opposition "as this will have no practical benefits."
The rebellion in Syria began as a series of Arab Spring-style protests against the Assad family's four-decade rule but has since escalated into a brutal war, with fierce battles and intensive shelling in major cities.
The war in Syria has claimed some 43,000 lives, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. - Agence France-Presse