Syria Travel Warning
Issued by US Department of State
Apr 03, 2011
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the potential for ongoing political and civil unrest in Syria. We urge U.S. citizens to defer non-essential travel to Syria at this time. The Department of State has authorized the voluntary departure of all eligible family members of U.S. government employees. U.S. citizens in Syria should closely examine their security situation in light of this and other recent developments and consider departing Syria. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning for Syria issued on April 1, 2011, to inform U.S. citizens of the authorization of voluntary departure for eligible family members of U.S. government employees.
U.S. citizens currently in Syria are advised against all travel to the coastal city of Lattakia as well as the southern city of Dera’a and the surrounding towns and villages. Demonstrations in those areas have been violently suppressed by Syrian security forces and there are reports of curtailed telecommunications, ongoing disturbances and live gunfire in various neighborhoods in the region.
Demonstrations in other major population centers, including Damascus, Aleppo, Homs and Hama, have degenerated on several occasions into violent clashes between security forces and protesters, resulting in deaths, injuries, and property damage. We remind U.S. citizens that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.
U.S. citizens are urged to avoid the areas of demonstrations if possible, and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstrations. Demonstrations have regularly taken place on Fridays following afternoon or evening prayers. Areas where people congregate after Friday prayers should be avoided.
Syrian government constraints on observers have made it difficult to adequately assess current risks or the potential for continuing violence.
Syrian efforts to attribute the current civil unrest to external influences may lead to an increase in anti-foreigner sentiment. Detained U.S. citizens may find themselves subject to allegations of incitement or espionage. Contrary to the terms of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, of which Syria is a signatory, Syrian authorities generally do not notify the U.S. Embassy of the arrest of a U.S. citizen until days or weeks after the arrest. Moreover, in the past, security officials have not responded to Embassy requests for consular access, especially in the case of persons detained for “security” reasons.
Travelers should heed directions given by Syrian police and/or security officials and should always carry a copy of their passport as proof of citizenship and identity. Taking photographs of demonstrations, public gatherings or anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest may result in questioning, detention, and/or confiscation of the images. Additionally, U.S. citizens should be aware that exhibiting disrespect towards political symbols or conversations on the topics of politics, religion, and other social issues could lead to arrest.
U.S. citizens should stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times. Media coverage of local events may cause family and friends to become concerned for the welfare of their loved ones in Syria, and we urge U.S. citizens to keep in regular contact with family or friends.
U.S. citizens living or traveling in Syria are encouraged to enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive the latest travel updates and information and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Syria. U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy in Damascus. By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy in Damascus can be reached at all hours at 963-11-3391-4444; the fax number is 963-11-3391-3999. The Embassy’s website, available at U.S. Embassy Damascus, includes consular information and the most recent messages to the U.S. citizen community in Damascus.
Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
For further information, U.S. citizens should consult the Department of State’s Country Specific Information for Syria available on the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ travel website at http://travel.state.gov/.
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