Amid scenes labeled “apocalyptic” and a “crime against humanity,” the Syrian regime continued its offensive on Sunday to retake the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, a neighborhood in south Damascus.
Most of the area is held by Islamic State and tens of thousands of Palestinian residents fled years ago, but thousands remain under a brutal siege.
The scenes from Yarmouk on Sunday looked like Stalingrad in 1942 or Berlin in 1945, during the Second World War: bombed-out buildings as far as the eye can see; roads turned to rubble; alleyways turned into canyons of destruction, gutted, gray and slumping from air strikes. There doesn’t appear to be anything left of many city blocks that were once a thriving community, the home of more than 200,000 people in 2011 when the Syrian civil war broke out. Now only a few thousand remain. Those who do are reported to be starving under the regime’s siege.
Since the middle of May, the regime has focused its firepower on the stronghold. It signed agreements with the local rebels so it could focus on destroying ISIS in southern Damascus, in an area held for years by the extremists. With support from Russia, according to numerous online accounts, the regime has sent tanks and planes to root out what remains.