MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia is “deeply concerned” by reports that each side in the Syrian conflict is enlisting and arming Palestinian refugees and said on Friday they should be kept out of the fighting.
Syria hosts more than 500,000 Palestinian refugees, according to United Nations figures.
“We call for the participants of the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic to show restraint and do all possible for Palestinian refugees not to be dragged into the Syrian confrontation and for places of their residence not to become objects of hostility,” the Foreign Ministry said.
Syrian rebels killed 10 members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, a faction loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, in a clash near the Palestinian camp of Yarmouk in Damascus on Wednesday.
After that incident, Syria’s Foreign Ministry said Damascus would stand “with full determination against any attempt to drag the Palestinians into what is happening in Syria”.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has asked the United Nations and Russia, one of Assad’s last remaining allies, to work to protect Palestinians in Syria.
The Russian Foreign Ministry statement said the plight of refugees in Syria “shows the relevance of a speedy overall Israeli-Palestinian settlement, an integral part of which must be a just solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees”.
The Syrian opposition says 38,000 people have been killed since the uprising against Assad began nearly 20 months ago. More than 408,000 Syrian refugees have fled to neighboring countries, the U.N. refugee agency said on Friday.
Reporting by Nastassia Astrasheuskaya; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Alistair Lyon