MOSCOW, May 10 (RIA Novosti) - Thirty Russians, who remain in Lebanon as the only airport in Beirut was closed due to the recent armed clashes, may leave the country on May 13, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
According to various reports, the Iranian-backed Islamist group Hezbollah took control of the Muslim half of Beirut on Friday after three days of fighting with pro-government militia. At least 18 people had reportedly been killed and over 100 wounded in the worst internal clashes since the 1975-90 civil war.
"We do not exclude that the Beirut airport will be reopened in the coming days and the expected Aeroflot [airlines] flight on the night of May 13 will take place," the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry said that 30 Russians were unable to leave the country as the airport was closed, but the number may be higher since "we speak for now only about those, who turned to the Russian Embassy in Beirut."
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Aeroflot airlines said the company plans to take all Russians to Moscow on Monday by a flight via Damascus.
"We plan to connect the flights from Beirut and Damascus and take all passengers from Damascus to Moscow on Monday," Irina Dannenberg said.
On Friday the Russian ministry expressed serious concern over the recent surge of violence in Lebanon following the government's actions targeting Hezbollah's military communications network.
"We urge Lebanese politicians to show restraint and wisdom in this complex and urgent situation," the ministry said in a statement. "All efforts must be focused on preventing the escalation of the conflict."
The European Union also urged calm and a peaceful resolution to the crisis, while Iran blamed the U.S. and Israel for fuelling the conflict by meddling in Lebanon's internal affairs.