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news 20 Jul 12

Belgrade Urges Serbs in Syria to Return

As escalation of violence continues in Syria, Belgrade urges Serbs living in the country to come home.

Bojana Barlovac
BIRN
Belgrade

Serbia's Foreign Ministry has called on Serbs living in Syria to leave the country following the deadly opposition attack on the security headquarters in Damascus on Wednesday.

It is estimated that several hundred Serbs live and work in Syria, though the exact number is unknown.

"Taking into account that there are still airlines flying scheduled flights from Damascus, the ministry recommends citizens to leave Syria using this option," the ministry said.

Serbia's national carrier, Jat Airways, has no flights from Damascus to Belgrade but a few other international airlines do, including AirBerlin, EgyptAir, Turkish Airlines, Alitalia, Austrian and Lufthansa.  

The statement also said that the Serbian embassy in Damascus and the Foreign Ministry will continue to monitor ongoing developments in Syria.

"A crisis office has been formed which, depending on new developments, will issue clear recommendations and proposals in order to protect the life, safety and interests of our citizens in Syria," the ministry said.

The armed uprising against Bashar Assad's regime has intensified in the past few weeks, with rebel forces engaging their forces more frequently in the capital. Media reported that 46 civilians were killed on Wednesday only.

The explosion inside the Syria's national security headquarters in Damascus killed three of the most senior members of President Assad's inner circle, including his brother-in-law.

Two days ago, Serbia joined the group of European countries that have imposed new sanctions on the country.

In March, dozens of Syrians living in Belgrade protested against the Syrian President's brutal crackdown in the city of Homs, holding banners that read "Free Syria", "Syria without Bashar", and "Stop lying, robbery, murder!"

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