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Russia prepares for evacuation from Syria
December 19, 2012, 11:49 am

Civil war continues in Syria. [AP]

Civil war continues in Syria. [AP]

The Russian Ministry of Foreign affairs and the Ministry of Emergency Situations have prepared an evacuation plan for Russian citizens in Syria.

In case of emergency, Russian Airborne Troops are ready to evacuate more than 30,000 of its citizens from the dangerous region – by sea and air.

Given the official statistics only some 5,000 Russian nationals are registered with Russian consulates in Syria.

However, the exact number of Russian subjects in Syria is unknown, and varies between 5,000 and 100,000.

As Interfax news agency reports, a group of Russian warships was sent to the Mediterranean Sea on Tuesday – the Baltic Fleet frigate Yaroslav Mudry and landing ships Kaliningrad and Alexander Shabalin, accompanied by tanker Lena and a towboat.

The Russian embassy in Syria has reported that there are only two safe ways for evacuation: by land – from Damascus to Beirut, and by sea – Tartus and Latakia.

The diplomats also point out that the airport of Damascus could no longer be called safe.

Last week, a senior Russian diplomat said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is losing control and the rebels might win the civil war.

But the Foreign Ministry rejected Mikhail Bogdanov’s statement the next day, saying his words were misinterpreted and that Moscow’s position on the crisis has not shifted.

Earlier this month two Russian citizens were kidnapped in Syria’s coastal city of Latakia, an Italian engineer was also abducted.

All three men were said to be working for the Syrian-owned Hmisho steel plant.

Daria Chernyshova

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