Indians in Syria asked to leave (Lead)

July 24th, 2012 - 10:05 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 24 (IANS) With violence in Syria escalating by the day, India Tuesday asked its nationals and families of the staff of the Indian mission in Damascus to leave the country.

Indian ambassador V.P. Haran is in touch with resident Indians and has asked them to leave the country, Syed Akbaruddin, the external affairs ministry spokesperson, told reporters here.

The families of the Indian mission’s staff have already been asked to leave.

There were around 900 Indians in Syria when violence started exacerbating nearly three months ago, but now barely 100 Indians are still left behind.

Of the 100, 13 are staff of the Indian mission in Damascus.

In view of sharply escalating violence between government forces and opposition activists in Syria, the hub of 17-month-old pro-democracy protests, India had issued a travel advisory July 20 to its citizens to avoid all travel to that country.

India’s decision to get its citizens and mission personnel evacuated comes amid reports that Syria is heading for a civil war with pro-democracy protestors and government forces locked in fierce combat and the Western powers tightening an embargo to hasten the ouster of President Bashar Al-Assad.

The situation is assuming frightening proportions as Syrian officials warned Monday that they would deploy chemical weapons against any foreign intervention.

Last week, India was among the 11 countries that voted on a UN Security Council resolution that sought new sanctions against the Assad regime, but Russia and China vetoed the measure.

India called the failure of the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution on Syria “regrettable”.

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