US expands travel warning amid violence in Syria

WASHINGTON - Americans in Syria areencouraged to leave and travel to the country should bepostponed, the US State Department said on Friday followingwidespread violence that has pitted thousands of protestersagainst the government.

The State Department warned that given the "ongoinguncertainty and volatility" US citizens are urged to leaveimmediately while transportation is still available. Theadvisory also encouraged Americans who remain to limit anynonessential travel within the country.

The advisory expands a travel warning issued in late Aprilthat ordered eligible family members of US governmentemployees and certain non-emergency personnel to leave.

Syrian security forces on Friday killed at least 18protesters in attacks on tens of thousands of protesters whopoured into the streets to demonstrate against the rule ofPresident Bashar Assad on the first Friday of the Muslimfasting month of Ramadan.

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