Russians fleeing the civil war in Syria described miserable conditions on the ground, Thomas Grove of Reuters reports.
"The Free Syrian Army is getting closer. We've been left without money , without light, without water," Natasha Yunis, who ran a beauty salon in Damascus, told Reuters. "A bomb exploded near our house ... The children hid. Of course it was horrible."
Two planes carrying 77 Russians, all of whom had approached the Russian consulate in Damascus for help, arrived in Moscow from the Lebanese capital Beirut early Wednesday.
"These are people from different regions of Syria who were left homeless and without means to live as a result of the conflict," the Russian emergencies ministry said in a statement.
"It's dangerous there for Russians," one man told Reuters. "If the Free Syrian Army understands that a person is Russian, they'll immediately cut off their head, because they (are seen to) support Assad's regime."
On Tuesday Russia said that it was not planning a full evacuation of Syrians, but would help those who want to leave.
There are 8,000 Russians registered with the consulate in Syria but there could be as many as 25,000 Russian women who have married Syrians living in the country. Voice of Russia radio, citing Russian diplomats, placed the total figure at more than 33,000.
Evacuations may continue as the end of the 21-month conflict is nowhere in sight.
A political settlement is not currently possible as the opposition demands the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while both Syria and Russia consider the stipulation an insurmountable obstacle to peace.
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