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Aircraft Carrying Expelled Russian Diplomats Departs Washington DC

© REUTERS / Chris RadburnAn aircraft sent to collect diplomats and their families from Russia's embassy in London, who were expelled by Britain after the poisoning of former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, takes off from Stansted aiport, Britain, March 20, 2018.
An aircraft sent to collect diplomats and their families from Russia's embassy in London, who were expelled by Britain after the poisoning of former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, takes off from Stansted aiport, Britain, March 20, 2018. - Sputnik International
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According to the online flight tracking site "Flightradar 24" two aircraft carrying expelled Russian diplomats and their families have taken off from Dulles Airport and are now heading toward Moscow. In total 171 people have left the US, a number that includes the diplomat's family members.

The Russian embassy in the United States announced earlier that two specially-chartered aircraft of the Russian 'Rossiya' federal air fleet had landed in Washington DC to pick up the diplomats and their families. The head of the Russian diplomatic mission to the US, Anatoly Antonov, reportedly accompanied the expelled diplomats to the airport. No incidents during the compulsory departure of his colleagues were reported.

Earlier in the day, Antonov said that the Skripal case was a pretext to carry out a war of words against Russia that has been planned for a long period of time.

The forensic tent, covering the bench where Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found, is repositioned by officials in protective suits in the centre of Salisbury, Britain, March 8, 2018 - Sputnik International
Russian Envoy to US: Skripal Case Pretext to Launch Long-Planned Smear Campaign
On Monday, the administration of US President Donald Trump expelled 60 Russian diplomats - along with their families - and closed the Russian Consulate General in Seattle, Washington, after Sergei Skripal - a former Russian spy who worked for UK intelligence - and his daughter Yulia were exposed to what UK experts claim was an A234 nerve agent.

The Russian Foreign Ministry, in response, announced the expulsion of 58 US diplomatic staff from the US embassy in Moscow alongside two employees from the US Consulate General in Yekaterinburg, and the closure of the US Consulate General in the northern Russian city of St. Petersburg.

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