Russia evacuates its citizens from Syria
MOSCOW — The Kremlin's evacuation of Russians from Syria on Tuesday marks a turning point in its view of the civil war, representing increasing doubts about Bashar Assad's hold on power and a sober understanding that it has to start rescue efforts before it becomes too late.
The operation has been relatively small-scale — involving fewer than 100 people, mostly women and children — but it marks the beginning of what could soon turn into a risky and challenging operation.
Analysts warn that rescuing tens of thousands of Russians from the war-stricken country could quickly become daunting as the opposition makes new advances in the battle against the Syrian president.
“It's a sign of distrust in Assad, who seems unlikely to hold on to power,” said Alexei Malashenko, a Middle East expert with the Carnegie Endowment's Moscow office.
Russia has been Assad's main ally, pooling together with China at the United Nations to block international sanctions against his regime.
But it has increasingly distanced itself from the Syrian ruler, signaling it is resigned to the prospect of him losing power.
On Tuesday, four buses carrying about 80 Russians crossed into Lebanon, the first evacuation organized by Moscow since the start of the Syrian conflict nearly two years ago.
The land route was presumably chosen because of renewed fighting near the Damascus airport. One of two planes sent to pick up the Russians took off late Tuesday from Beirut for Moscow, and the other was set to take off soon, the Emergencies Ministry said.
Malashenko said the evacuation reflected a strong concern in Moscow that Assad's fall would put Russians in grave danger. “There is a strong likelihood that Assad's foes could unleash a massacre of those whom they see as his supporters,” he said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Terror threat not foreign, Cameron tells Brits
- Beijing expected to restrict Hong Kong candidates
- With eyes on China, Japan seeks record defense budget
- Yemenis protest against Shiites
- Mexico operations thwart child, family migrants
- Putin calls for exit corridor for Ukrainian troops trapped in southeast
- 5 authors of Ebola study died of virus during research
- Ebola-infected student gives problem to Senegal
- Zimbabwe’s first lady enters politics amidst controversy
- As German fears grow, Merkel ‘holds line’
- Russian columns enter Ukraine; leader urges calm