MOSCOW, January 22 (RIA Novosti) – Russia sent two planes on Tuesday to evacuate Russian nationals from Syria.
A Yak-42 and an Il-76, which can carry a total of about 100 passengers, flew from Moscow to the Lebanese capital Beirut.
Russian embassy officers arrived from Damascus at the Jeida border crossing point on the Syrian-Lebanese border to provide consular assistance to Russians wishing to leave Syria.
The first group of about 50 Russian nationals crossed the Syrian-Lebanese border in three buses, accompanied by embassy officers.
These include Russian women who have married Syrians and their children or husbands who have acquired Russian citizenship.
From Lebanon they will fly to Moscow.
A total of 81 people are on the list of Russian nationals wanting to go to Russia, according to the Russian Embassy in Damascus.
In October, around 1,000 Russians said they wanted to leave Syria, but in December the number fell to about 100, an embassy officer said.
The Civil Defense and Emergency Situations Ministry has opened a hotline for Russians in Syria and their relatives.
Psychological counseling and medical aid posts, as well as a Federal Migration Service post, will be opened at Moscow’s international Domodedovo airport, where the two planes will return.
The move comes about a week after the closure of the Russian Consulate General in the northwestern Syrian city of Aleppo, the scene of months of vicious fighting between government forces and rebel groups. The Russian embassy in Damascus remains open to date.
At least 60,000 people have been killed in the conflict between government and rebel forces in since March 2011, according to UN figures released in January.