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12 May, 2008 09:44

Russians from Lebanon land in Moscow

More than 30 Russians who fled worsening violence in Lebanon have finally arrived back in Moscow. They'd been stranded for several days before escaping through Syria. But diplomats say more Russians remain stuck in Lebanon.

Clashes between government supporters and Shiite opposition activists continue in Lebanon, where at least 81 are reported killed in clashes between pro-government and opposition supporters. Around 250 have been wounded.

A delegation of Arab foreign ministers is to arrive in Beirut on Monday in an attempt to mediate a way out of Lebanon's worst internal strife for 18 years. The Arab ministers urged both political rivals to immediately stop armed clashes.

The fighting erupted last Wednesday when Lebanon's government decided to sack the chief of airport security for alleged ties to Hezbollah. It also declared the militant group's private telecommunication network illegal.

Several areas of Beirut were initially seized by Hezbollah. But the capital was quiet on Sunday after control was handed to the Lebanese army. However violence occurred overnight in the country's second city, Tripoli, close to the Syrian border.

Russians back home safe

Meanwhile, a group of Russian citizens left stranded in Lebanon have safely arrived in the Russian capital.

A rescue flight took off from Damascus, the capital of neighbouring Syria, after the only Lebanese international airport had been closed due to the violence.

While some of those who’ve returned say the Russian consulate ‘worked perfectly’, others believe ‘tourists from America, Norway saw more co-operation from their embassies’.

However, the Russian Embassy in Lebanon has stressed that the flight through Damascus was not some kind of evacuation in an emergency. Though the situation in Lebanon is tense, this was simply an opportunity for people to get back if they wished to do so.