As the Islamic State has seized most of the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria and trapped about 18,000 civilians, those who were lucky enough to escape have told of the ISIS atrocities they witnessed and one even described the barbaric nature in which militants used a person's decapitated head.
As ISIS militants descended on the Yarmouk refugee camp in the nation's capital city of Damascus last Wednesday, thousands of civilians were trapped between the brutal extremist group and the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's with little to no food, water or medicine.
Although the death and casualty toll among Palestinian civilians at the camp is not certain, an official from the Palestinian Liberation Organization said earlier this week that at least 27 Palestinian camp residents have been killed since ISIS entered the camp, while an estimated 75 to 200 Palestinians have been abducted by ISIS during that time.
"Accurate information on casualties is difficult to obtain due to the tragic conditions inside the camp," Ahmed Majdalani, an official for the PLO, told Palestine's official radio station.
One 55-year-old refugee named Abdel Fatah, who is one of about 2,500 people who have fled the camp due to ISIS' takeover, described the appalling nature of ISIS' brutality in an interview with AFP earlier this week.
"I saw severed heads. They killed children in front of their parents. We were terrorised," Fatah explained. "We had heard of the cruelty from the television but when we saw it ourselves … I can tell you, their reputation is well-deserved."
A 16-year-old refugee named Amjad Yaaqub, who spoke to AFP as his lip and eye were swollen from a beating he suffered at the hands ISIS militants, said not only is ISIS beheading people, but he also saw militants kicking around decapitated heads.
"In Palestine Street, I saw two members of Daesh playing with a severed head as it was a football," Yaaqub described, referring to ISIS by its Arab acronym. "Daesh came to my home looking for my brother who's in Palestinian Popular Committees. They beat me until I passed out and left me for dead."
ISIS' violence is not the only problem facing those suffering at the Yarmouk camp. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that Syrian government forces have unleashed at least 36 barrel bombs on the camp, while other reports indicate that one barrell bomb even struck the camp's main hospital. Although barrell bombs have been a main tactic used by Assad forces, they are just as lethal to civilians as they are to the militants the government forces are trying to wipe out.
Starvation and dehydration continue to be an epidemic, just as it was before ISIS seized the camp. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates that close to 200 camp residents died from malnutrition and lack of medicine before the 300 ISIS militants surged into the camp.
"[The camp, in Damascus, Syria,] was frankly a hell hole even before the events of the last week," Chris Gunness, of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, told Christian Today.
Gunness added that since ISIS has taken over the camp, the inhumanity has reached "inconceivable levels."
"What we're seeing is intense fighting, unconfirmed reports of aerial bombing, people cowering in their baths at home, too frightened to leave to get food, water or to get help. There are inconceivable levels of humanity," Gunness asserted. "We have had no access to all since a week ago. … [Residents have no access to] UN water, UN food or UN medicine, so you can draw your own conclusions from that. These are desperate people."
"We are facing the potential slaughter of innocents," Gunness continued. "There are 3,500 children that are trapped in this camp and street fighting is raging."
As anti-Assad Palestinian fighters and fighters from the Free Syrian Army have been the main line of defense against ISIS in the camp, Palestinian factions have reached an agreement to co-operate with Syrian government forces in the camp's defense against ISIS, BBC reported. However, it is unclear yet as to what that agreement entails for such an unlikely partnership.
"The operation will be conducted in co-operation between the Palestinian groups in Syria and the Syrian government through a joint operation centre," Majdalani told BBC.