Military operation needed in Syria's Yarmuk camp: minister

Military operation needed in Syria's Yarmuk camp: minister
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Meqdad (R) meeting with a PLO delegation headed by Ahmad Majdalani (L) in Damascus.

DAMASCUS - A military operation is necessary to expel Islamic State jihadists from the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp in south Damascus, Syria's reconciliation minister said on Wednesday.

"The priority now is to expel and defeat militants and terrorists in the camp. Under the present circumstances, a military solution is necessary," minister Ali Haidar said in Damascus.

He made the comments after meeting Palestine Liberation Organisation official Ahmed Majdalani, who travelled from the West Bank for emergency talks on the situation in the embattled Yarmuk camp.

"It is not the state that has chosen this, but those who entered the camp," added Haidar, referring to fighters from the jihadist group.

IS forces attacked Yarmuk on April 1, and have seized large swathes of the camp, executing Palestinian fighters who sought to resist.

The group's presence in Yarmuk has sparked international concern for the camp's remaining residents, who have endured repeated bombardment and a siege of more than 18 months by the army.

The government and residents of the capital have also been rattled by the presence of IS militants just miles (kilometres) from the heart of Damascus.

Haidar did not spell out when a military operation might begin, or how it would be waged, but he suggested that Syrian troops could be involved.

"The Syrian state will decide whether the battle requires it," he said, when asked if Syrian soldiers would participate in any operation.

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