German police on Wednesday arrested a Syrian man for war crimes, accusing him of having fired a grenade into a crowd of civilians waiting for food and water from UN relief workers in Damascus in 2014.
At least seven people were killed in the attack allegedly carried out by Mouafak Al D. on March 23, 2014, German prosecutors said in a statement.
“The accused is strongly suspected of having committed war crimes. In connection with this, he is also charged with seven counts of murder and three counts of grievous bodily harm,” said prosecutors.
At the time of the assault, the suspect is believed to have been a member of the “Free Palestine Movement” which laid siege to the southern Damascus neighborhood of Yarmuk on behalf of Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Founded in 1957 with tents for Palestinians forced to leave their homes by the establishment of Israel, Yarmuk was once the Palestinian diaspora’s largest urban settlement.
It developed into a sprawling neighborhood that became home to 160,000 Palestinians, as well as Syrians.
But after Syria sank into a civil war in 2011, around 140,000 residents fled Yarmuk in the following year, leaving the rest to face severe food shortages under government siege.
The UN’s relief agency for Palestine refugees UNRWA had access to Yarmuk and was able to conduct food distribution there until April 2015, when ISIS extremists entered the area.