MOSCOW - Russia said on Tuesday it had started evacuating scores of citizens who wanted to leave Syria but denied the move was the start of a mass exodus.
Two senior diplomats played down the significance of decision, announced on Monday, to send aircraft to bring Russians home almost two years after the start of the revolt against Syria's President Bashar Assad.
"We are not talking about a full evacuation ... It is not planned that everyone will leave," Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Denisov said, according to state-run news agency Itar-Tass.
"We are helping those who want to leave," Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said on the sidelines of a meeting in Moscow between Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Lebanese President Michel Suleiman.