U.S. offers free flights out for employees in Syria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is offering free flights out of Syria to family members of U.S. government employees, the State Department said on Sunday.

It also advised U.S. citizens in Syria, where dozens of people are reported to have died in anti-government protests, to closely examine their security situation and consider leaving because of the unrest.

The U.S. travel warning on Syria is the third issued in less than two weeks.

Last week, the United States advised its citizens to put off nonessential travel to Syria and urged those already in the country to consider leaving because of the protests, which followed popular revolts elsewhere in the Arab world.

The unrest in Syria has presented the gravest challenge to the 11-year rule of President Bashar al-Assad, who took power after the death of his father, Hafez al-Assad, in 2000.

The United States has long had a contentious relationship with Syria, which maintains an anti-Israel alliance with Iran and supports the militant groups Hezbollah and Hamas.

(Editing by Paul Simao)

U.S. offers free flights out for employees in Syria