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Report: Palestinians in Syria divided

Oct. 31, 2012 at 5:16 PM   |   Comments

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- Armed Palestinian factions opposed to Syrian President Bashar Assad may join the fight against pro-government forces, observers say.

There are an estimated half-million Palestinians living in Syria and both sides in the 19-month-old conflict have been courting their support, the Financial Times reported Wednesday.

"The regime has been trying to enlist the Palestinians, and the rebels have been trying to do the same," Hilal Khashan, a political science professor at American University of Beirut, told the newspaper in a report from Abu Dhabi. "As the civil war in Syria continues to unfold, I think the Palestinian fratricide will be a chapter."

Some Palestinians feel loyalty to Assad because Syria welcomed them in the past while others support the pro-democracy opposition.

The Times said rival Palestinian militias apparently are prepared to fight each other in the southern suburbs of Damascus in Yarmouk Camp, a residential district with a large Palestinian population.

Rebel forces battling the Assad government said a Palestinian militia was prepared to take on an armed pro-government Palestinian militia in the community of some 150,000 where at least nine people were killed during anti-government demonstrations last year.

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