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Syria's Palestinians divided over whom to support

The war in Syria has split the allegiance of some Palestinians, with Hamas in Yarmouk supporting the armed opposition and those in Nairab aligned with the Syrian regime.
Palestinians living in Syria carry flags as one of them holds a picture depicting Syria's President Bashar al-Assad during a rally marking the annual al-Quds Day, or Jerusalem Day, on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Damascus, Syria July 10, 2015. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki - RTX1JVFC
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ALEPPO, Syria — On the way to Sheikh Najjar Industrial City from Aleppo, we stopped for coffee at a roadside kiosk. Its owner, Mohammed Sabri, a Palestinian refugee, had posted on the walls of his modest business photos of Palestinians killed in clashes. Prominently displayed was one of his son Khaled, who was killed in Nairab refugee camp by armed opposition groups. Seeing the photographs of Palestinian casualties made me wonder about the standing of the Palestinians in the Syrian civil war. Our Palestinian driver said that for the answer to my question, I had to visit the Nairab Palestinian refugee camp. We decided to stop there on our way back from Najjar.

It is a typical Palestinian refugee camp: small tenements surrounded by high walls, haphazardly built, multistory buildings, animated streets and the inevitable Gaza Martyrs Cemetery. The camp, established in 1956, normally has a population of 27,000. But with more people seeking refuge from the war, it now houses about 50,000 people.

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