According to state television, Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Moallem
told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
that Palestinians living in the country should not offer "shelter or assistance to terrorist groups" in the Yarmouk
refugee camp in Damascus.
Moallem's comments came after Ban's spokesman said the secretary general was concerned at reports of an air strike by President Bashar Assad's forces on Yarmouk refugee camp on Sunday in which 25 people were reportedly killed.
Bombing aftermath (Photo: Reuters)
Sunday's air strike on Yarmouk, carried out by the Syrian military, was the first against the country's Palestinian refugee camps, whose residents are divided over the 21-month conflict between rebels and regime forces.
Moallem said Palestinians should work to expel "terrorists", the label Syrian authorities have given to anti-Assad rebels. As a result of the bombing hundreds of Palestinians refugees living in Syria flooded into Lebanon. A Reuters witness at the border said they came in buses and cars piled high with belongings.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in a rare statement, condemned Syrian President Bashar Assad's violence against rebels, he urged "All parties involved in the Syrian conflict to refrain from harming our people in the refugee camps. Don't drag them into your fighting."
Syrian rebels enlisting Palestinians (Photo: Reuters)
Yasser Abed Rabbo,
general secretary of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said the PLO held Assad responsible for the deaths during the air raid.
"Massacres in Yarmouk camp and everywhere in Syria requires sooner than later the international community to put an end to the regime of terrorism and killing in Syria before it sets the entire region on fire," he told Reuters in Ramallah. "We are following our people's condition in Syria and will take all measures in order to protect our people and on all levels," he added.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad
said Sunday's bombing was "a crime perpetrated by a regime that no longer has any legitimacy."
Syria hosts half a million Palestinian refugees,
most living in Yarmouk and descendants of those admitted after the creation of Israel in 1948, and has always cast itself as a champion of the Palestinian struggle, sponsoring several guerrilla factions.
Both Assad's government and the mainly Sunni Muslim Syrian rebels have enlisted and armed Palestinians as the uprising has developed into a civil war. Abu Khalil Jalili, a Palestinian who entered Lebanon with his family, said others we not so lucky: "We came here, but most people sleep on the streets in Damascus."