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India asks its citizens to leave Syria
Publication Date : 25-07-2012
With violence in Syria escalating by the day, India yesteday said it has asked the staff of its embassy in Damascus and its other citizens to leave the West Asian country.
Indian ambassador VP 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 staff of the Indian mission have already been asked to leave, he said.
There were around 900 Indians in Syria when violence started escalating 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. Every Indian has been advised to leave, the spokesperson said.
In view of the sharply escalating violence between government forces and opposition activists in Syria, the hub of the 17-month-old pro-democracy protests, India had issued a travel advisory on 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 protesters and regime forces locked in a 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 yesterday that they would deploy chemical weapons against any foreign intervention.
Last week, India was among the 11 countries that voted in favour of a UN Security Council resolution that sought new sanctions against the Assad regime, but Russia and China vetoed the resolution.
India called the failure of the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution on Syria "regrettable." Meanwhile, the USA has said that it was “gratified” by India's support to a resolution on Syria at the United Nations Security Council.
“With regard to India, we were gratified by their support,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters, when asked about India voting in favour of the US-backed resolution on Syria at the UNSC, which was vetoed by Russia and China.
Nuland iterated that it is time for the Assad regime to go as it has lost its legitimacy to rule the country and that it supports the Syria opposition's plan for a transitional governing authority.
“There's going to have to be an interim authority until we can get to elections there, and that all of our support needs to go into that. “And also that there is going to have to be some kind of a transitional security arrangement that all the parties in Syria are also going to have to think about, assuring the safety of all of the citizens of Syria in the transition period,” she said.
With reports from PTI