The Russian announcement came as
anti-government activists reported violence around the country,
including air raids on the town of Beit Sahm near Damascus International
Airport, just south of the capital.
Russian officials said about
100 of the tens of thousands of Russian nationals in the country will be
taken out overland to Lebanon and flown home from there, presumably
because renewed fighting near the airport in Damascus has made it too
dangerous for the foreigners to use that route out of the Syrian
Assad has dismissed calls that he step down. He has
proposed a national reconciliation conference, elections and a new
constitution, but the opposition insists he play no role in a resolution
to the conflict. The U.N. says more than 60,000 people have died in the
civil war since March 2011.