I was in Damascus last April 2014 with a peace delegation led by Mairead Maguire. We spent a week and visited Homs and Latakia in addition to Damascus. It was VERY different than impressions we receive in media. Especially Homs, most of which looked completely normal. This was one month before the rebels agreed to depart the old city.
In Damascus a few of us visited two camps where Palestinians from Yarmouk were staying. One was UNRWA, the other a converted school.
An old woman said to me loudly and firmly “We want to go home! First back to Yarmouk ….. then to Palestine!” Hearing that, a younger Palestinian said “Forget it. I am tired of waiting for Palestine. I want to go to Sweden.”
Other residents suggested that’s the aim of the conflict in Syria: to make Palestinians give up. Sweden is allowing increasing numbers of Palestinian immigrants.
A few facts ……………
* Unlike elsewhere in the Middle East, Palestinians in Syria have all rights except citizenship (which would negate the right of return)
* 90% of Yarmouk Palestinians departed
* Some who remained were prevented from leaving.
* others stay because there is nowhere good to go or because they cannot afford to lose all their possessions since abandoned houses are taken by the rebels.
* Palestinian youth in Yarmouk are like Syrian youth: there are different trends including salafi and MB influenced.
* the latter are the ones who took the conflict into the camp and started sniping
* Most palestinians residents opposed the entry and take-over of Yarmouk.
* this is a bloody war, promoted and paid by the West and allies (Israel and Gulf monarchies).