NPR : News

Russia Will Send Two Planes To Evacuate Its Citizens From Syria

The Russian government said that it was sending two airplanes to Lebanon in an effort to evacuate any of its citizens who wish to leave neighboring Syria.

Russia Today, the official English-language outlet for the country, reports the planes will depart on Tuesday and are expected to carry about 100 Russians.

As the AP reports this is significant because Russia has been Syria's staunch ally. The country has used its veto power in the United Nations to stop international intervention in the bloody conflict against President Bashar Assad that started in March of 2011.

The AP adds:

"Monday's announcement appears to reflect Moscow's increasing doubts about Assad's ability to cling to power and growing concerns about the safety of its citizens.

"Russia's Foreign Ministry has said that it has contingency plans in place to evacuate thousands of Russians from Syria."

Russia Today adds that speculation had swirled about whether Russia would use its Navy to evacuate its citizens from Syria.

"This appeared to be confirmed when several warships were sent to the Mediterranean sea," RT reports. "But the Foreign Ministry denied the speculation, saying the deployment was for scheduled military drills."

The BBC reports if this airlift happens, it would be the first of its kind for Russia since the uprising started.

Copyright 2013 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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