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Russian plane lands in Syria to deliver aid, evacuate citizens

The plane would take 180 citizens of ex-Soviet states wanting to leave Syria including 100 Russians.

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(LOUAI ABO AL-JOD/AFP/Getty Images)

A Russian cargo plane carrying food aid for Syria landed in Latakia on Tuesday and would evacuate Russians wanting to leave the conflict-torn country, the emergencies ministry said.

The Ilyushin-76 plane belonging to the Russian emergencies ministry landed in the Syrian port city with a cargo of 20 tonnes of humanitarian aid, largely conserves and sugar, emergencies ministry spokeswoman Irina Rossius said.

On the return flight to Russia later Tuesday, the plane would take 180 citizens of ex-Soviet states wanting to leave Syria including 100 Russians, she added, quoted by Russian news agencies.

"On the way back, the plane will take Russians and citizens of ex-Soviet states who have made clear a desire to leave the country," she said.

The flight comes as expectations grow of Western military action against President Bashar al-Assad's regime over claims it used chemical weapons in an attack outside the Syrian capital last week.

Russia has questioned the claims and warned such military action will have catastrophic consequences.

Latakia is a Mediterranean port city whose region is dominated by the Alawite community, the Muslim sect to which Assad, his family and much of the regime's elite belong.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130827/russian-plane-lands-syria-deliver-aid-evacuate-citizens