U.S. urges Americans to leave Syria ‘immediately’
The U.S. Embassy in Damascus urged its citizens in Syria to depart “immediately,” and Turkey’s foreign ministry urged Turkish pilgrims to opt for flights to return home from Saudi Arabia to avoid traveling through Syria.
“The U.S. Embassy continues to urge U.S. citizens in Syria to depart immediately while commercial transportation is available,” said a statement issued to the American community in Syria Wednesday and posted on the Embassy’s website. “The number of airlines serving Syria has decreased significantly since the summer, while many of those airlines remaining have reduced their number of flights.”
The warning followed an announcement in Washington this week that Ambassador Robert Ford would not return to Syria this month as planned, indicating concerns over his safety.
The Obama administration quietly pulled Ford out of Syria last month, citing credible personal threats against him.
The Turkish foreign ministry on Wednesday urged Turkish pilgrims to opt for flights to return home from Saudi Arabia and avoid traveling through Syria for security reasons.
The warning came two days after Syrian soldiers opened fire on at least two buses carrying Turkish citizens, witnesses and officials said, apparent retaliation for Turkey’s criticism of Assad. The Turks were returning from Saudi Arabia after performing the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.