Planes Sent to Evacuate Russians in Syria
As power outage strikes Damascus
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 21, 2013 5:55 PM CST
This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows damage after a rocket slammed into a building, killing at least 12 people, in Aleppo, Syria, Friday, Jan. 18, 2013.   (AP Photo/SANA)
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(Newser) – Moscow sent two planes to pick up Russian citizens trapped in Syria's civil war today as a power outage struck Damascus and a swath of the country's south, report Russia Today and the AP. The Russian planes were headed for Beirut, where about 100 people, mostly women and children, had gone to be evacuated. Syrian rebels have said that Russian citizens are "legitimate targets" in their war to topple President Bashar al-Assad because "Russia, like Iran, supports the Assad regime with weapons and ammunition, as well as in the political arena."

Syrian officials blamed rebels for the powerless capital, where outages and shortages of cooking gas and gasoline remind people of the war being waged mostly elsewhere in the country. "We covered ourselves from the cold in blankets because there was no diesel or electricity for the heaters," said a 60-year-old retired teacher in Damascus. "We have no idea when the power will come or go." The city saw some of its power returned today, but an area stretching about 31 miles north remained hampered by the outage.