The United States has warned its citizens against travel to Syria and recommended that those who are already in that restive Middle East country depart immediately.
The State Department issued the travel warning on Monday along with its decision to suspended all embassy operations with immediate effect in the wake of escalating violence and a deteriorating security situation in that Arab country. All official U.S. Embassy personnel and their family members have departed.
The State Department said it continues to reach out to U.S. citizens who are believed to remain in Syria. It requested to direct inquiries regarding U.S. citizens in Syria to SyriaEmergencyUSC@state.gov. Callers in the United States and Canada may dial the toll free number 1-888-407-4747. Callers outside the United States and Canada may dial 1-202-501-4444.
The State Department urged those U.S. citizens who decide to remain in Syria despite the travel warning to enroll their stay in Syria through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at www.travel.state.gov, and provide their current contact information and next-of-kin information.
The Polish government has agreed to serve as the protecting power for U.S. interests in Syria. Neither U.S. passports nor visas to the United States are issued in Damascus. For emergency assistance, U.S. citizens have been advised to contact the U.S. Interests Section via telephone at 963 954 666 693 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The latest surge in the Bashar al-Assad government's continuing crackdown on the civilian population entered its fourth day on Monday, and hundreds of people have been killed in attacks by the Syrian Army using heavy artillery and shelling against civilians in the volatile western city of Homs, according to media reports.
by RTT Staff Writer
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