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Monday, July 17, 2006

Syria offers safe haven to US nationals fleeing Lebanon

The Syrian embassy said it was offering "safe haven" to Americans and other citizens wishing to flee Lebanon, where nearly 200 civilians have been killed during a massive Israeli military bombardment.

"Now, while thousands of United States citizens are stranded in Lebanon attempting to flee the ongoing massacre there, Syria has opened its borders to US citizens as well as citizens of other nationalities," the embassy said in a statement.

"In Syria, US and citizens of other nations find a safe haven from the barbaric and atrocious acts of the Israeli army in Lebanon," it said, adding that already a "huge influx of US and foreign nationals" have entered Syria.

Syria was waiving visa requirements for entry and offering "all sorts of humane assistance to the thousands of refugees coming from Lebanon including medical attention," it said.

"From Syria, US citizens can return safely home."

US military helicopters flew 43 people out of Lebanon Monday and preparations were underway to evacuate potentially thousands of US nationals by air and by sea, officials said.

Other foreign capitals also rushed to evacuate frightened nationals from the escalating conflict, as Israel indicated it may provide windows in its six-day-old aerial bombardment to facilitate safe passage.


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