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10 May, 2008 18:12

40 Russians stranded in Lebanon

Some 40 Russians, including a team of tennis-players and tourists, are stranded in Lebanon's capital, Beirut, due to violent clashes between pro-government armed forces and Hezbollah loyalists. The Russian Embassy in Lebanon says they are going to help th

Beirut International airport was closed after a surge in violence, and about 40 Russians found themselves trapped in the city.

The Russian Embassy in Lebanon has agreed a special route for Russians to leave the country on Sunday.

“We, as the Russian Embassy, are providing Russians with help to get to Damascus and then to Moscow. All of them are going to be sent to a special place in Syria early in the morning, and we will check that the way to Syria is clear and secure for them to travel. Police cars will follow them to ensure security. We are ready to help any other Russians who are still in Lebanon,” said Embassy Press Attache, Vladimir Cherepanov.

The Russian airline Aeroflot is also working to get the stranded visitors out of the city.

“Working with the Aeroflot office in Damascus, we have agreed on a flight to Syria. According to our calculations, that flight should accommodate all those Russians who want to leave Lebanon,” local Aeroflot spokesman Aleksandr Afanasyev said.

Since clashes in Beirut began on Wednesday, more than 20 people have been killed and over a hundred wounded.

But the opposition Hezbollah has reportedly promised to end its armed presence in Beirut following a deal with the Lebanese Army.