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Fighting flares in Syria refugee camp

DAMASCUS, Syria -- Palestinian factions in Syria called for a cease-fire yesterday after fighting flared at a refugee camp in Damascus, highlighting a split among Palestinians in the civil war.

Heavy clashes in the Yarmouk camp subsided last month after Syrian rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad battled loyalists there to a standstill.

In yesterday's fighting, five people died on Yarmouk Street, four when a shell exploded and the fifth killed by sniper fire, the Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights said. The group said intense clashes were taking place on the edges of the camp, where Syrian troops are positioned, and in the nearby Hajar Aswad district.

Representatives of 14 Damascus-based Palestinian factions called for a cease-fire and a halt to all military operations to enable medical teams and food supply trucks to enter the camp.

About half of Yarmouk's 150,000 residents have fled since fighting erupted in mid-December, according to estimates by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.

U.S. troops have been arriving in Turkey since Friday as crews for Patriot antimissile batteries along the Syrian border. The defense system is overseen by NATO at Turkey's request. For now, about 400 U.S. troops are being airlifted from Oklahoma to Incirlik Air Base. -- AP,

with The Washington Post

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