24/10/2014 14:18
RIA Novosti

Russia

Wrap: First stage of Russia's Lebanon evacuation operation complete

20:52 20/07/2006
MOSCOW/BEIRUT, July 20 (RIA Novosti) - The first stage of an operation to evacuate Russian citizens from Lebanon is over, but 100-150 Russian citizens could still be in Lebanon, the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said Thursday.

The evacuation from the Middle East state, which has been subjected to Israeli air and missile strikes for over a week, was launched Tuesday. Russia has evacuated 1,407 of its nationals and citizens of former Soviet republics.

According to the Foreign Ministry's latest information, "1,407 citizens of Russia, and Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine have been evacuated from Lebanon to Russia," a source in the ministry said.

Emergency Situations Ministry official Yury Brazhnikov said 100-150 Russians could still be in southern Lebanon, controlled by the radical group Hizbollah, which abducted two Israeli soldiers nine days ago, sparking the current onslaught from the Israeli military.

Brazhnikov said, "This figure [100-150] is a consular service estimates. Intensive efforts are underway to find Russian citizens in Lebanon."

Brazhnikov suggested some of this number might not have registered with consular services.

He said a ministry plane would stay in Syria in case more Russian citizens wanting to leave the country emerge.

The latest report from the Russian embassy in Beirut said another 200 Russian citizens would be evacuated from the city on Friday.

Four buses with the Russians will join a convoy of vehicles being formed by Ukraine's embassy in Lebanon. They will travel from Beirut to northern Lebanon, and on to Syria, from where evacuees will be flown to Moscow.

Most evacuees are children, and women married to Lebanese nationals. One of the evacuees, Zhanetta, said it had taken her and her children four hours to travel from southern Lebanon to Beirut, traveling through mountains, instead of the usual 45 minutes.

"Bombs were falling right outside our home. I was panic stricken," she said. "My husband said we had to get out on our own, as nobody would come to rescue us because the bridges and roads had been destroyed."

Israel has destroyed almost all bridges and many roads and crucial infrastructure facilities in the capital and southern regions of Lebanon. The Lebanese prime minister has said more than 300 people have been killed in Israeli missile and air strikes, and 500,000 have been forced to flee. Israeli fatalities from attacks mounted by militant Islamic group Hizbollah have been put at 29.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement Thursday that the scale of destruction caused in Lebanon by the Israeli military had gone far beyond Israel's stated goals of releasing the soldiers and curbing Hizbollah's militant activities.

"Moscow confirms its commitment to a decisive war against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. We also confirm our demands that that the captured Israeli servicemen be unconditionally freed. However, the unprecedented scale of fatalities and destruction shows that actions [on the part of Israel] to achieve this goal have gone far beyond the bounds of an anti-terrorist operation."

The ministry also said Russia was ready to provide aid to the country.

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RIA NovostiWrap: First stage of Russia's Lebanon evacuation operation complete

20:52 20/07/2006 The first stage of an operation to evacuate Russian citizens from Lebanon is over, but 100-150 Russian citizens could still be in Lebanon, the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said Thursday. >>

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