DAMASCUS, February 26 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian Embassy in Syria evacuated 25 Russian nationals from the northern city of Aleppo, where fierce clashes continue between government forces and rebels, a spokesman for the diplomatic mission said on Tuesday.
The Russians, mainly women and children, were evacuated in two groups by military helicopters belonging to the Syrian army, the spokesman said.
“The day before yesterday, 18 people left Aleppo for [the eastern Syrian city of] Latakia. Today, seven more people were evacuated,” he said, adding that two Belarusians and one Ukrainian woman were also among the evacuees.
Last week, two Russian Emergencies Ministry planes evacuated some 100 Russians from war-stricken Syria, after bringing 46 metric tons of humanitarian aid to Latakia. Another group of evacuees was brought back to Russia from Syria in January.
The Russian Embassy in Syria estimated that some 30,000 Russians lived in the country, but other reports suggest the figure could be higher.
Russia, along with China, has faced widespread condemnation over its refusal to approve UN sanctions against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose forces the international community accused of widespread human rights abuses.
However, Moscow repeatedly stated it has no interest in seeing Assad remain in power, but is concerned that unilateral sanctions would create a power vacuum that would lead to more violence.
About 70,000 people have died in Syria since the start of the uprising against Assad in March 2011, according to UN figures.